Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

This evening, I am focusing on Skara Brae, one of Britain’s best prehistoric sites which has achieved World Heritage status. This site is located on Mainland Orkney, north of the Scottish mainland and about eighteen miles west of Kirkwall, the principal town on Orkney.

This village was occupied for about 600 years (3100 BC to 2500 BC) , a period which spanned two distinct phases of occupation with most of that which is currently visible representing the final phase which was built over the levelled earlier site.

The site was originally exposed by the very forces which continue to threaten it today: a wild storm and coastal erosion. Back in the settlement’s Neolithic prime it is believed there was a considerable buffer of land between the village and the coast virtually all of which has now been eroded, a process which may have already destroyed other parts of the site.

It is believed that Skara Brae was a self-sufficient community which eventually dispersed when the people reverted to more single family type homesteads under a regional identity. However, this is one theory. The archaeology does suggest that, when occupied, the Skara Brae site was home to a remarkably successful and stable small community which lasted for some 600 years.

Looking down  through what may have been turf roofs, we can identify with a range of basic furniture including beds and dressers, albeit made from stone. The passage ways would have been roofed to afford protection from the persistent Orkney wind.

The site was preserved over the millennia due to a combination of robust construction (in an organic refuse tip) and filling up with sand after abandonment.

Skara Brae is one of a collection of important prehistoric sites on Orkney with neighbours including Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stennes and Maes Howe.

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland

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