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Thursday 8 July 2010

Skara Brae

As I had friends visiting over the weekend I took the opportunity to revisit Skara Brae, the remains of a neolithic village thought to have been inhabited from between 3200 BC and 2200 BC. The remains are amazing. Above is a photo that shows the basic design shared by all the houses : a large square room, with a central hearth, beds on either side and a shelved dresser on the wall opposite the entrance. I've shared similar pictures before but I always think it's worth sharing again! I love this place. Now it is very close to the shore, with a sea wall built to protect it, and there are concerns that further work is needed to prevent more coastal erosion, but when it was built it was probably up to a mile or so inland.

As well as the neolithic village, there is also Skaill House to visit (see photo below). Early parts of this mansion house were built for Bishop George Graham in the 1620s. The house is still a family home, but certain parts are open to the public as a museum and the rooms are presented as it was in the 1950's. In the dining room is a china dinner service from Captain Cook's ship. Cook's ship put into Stromness on it's return home from his last fateful voyage.


  1. We did love Skara Brae! Interesting that they have constructed a sea wall. I know at the time we were there (3-4 years ago), there was concern about the ever-encroaching sea.

  2. I remember the last time uyou posted about Skara Brae, I told my cousin that that should be our next trip when I come to visit. She wasn't thrilled with the idea, but I still am!

  3. Mary Z - I think the sea wall would have been there when you visited. It was built a while ago - but they think they need to do something to reinforce it now.

    VioletSky - well let me know when you visit Orkney and we can get together!!

  4. Louise from Seattle9 July 2010 at 17:06

    Skara Brae is my all-time favorite Neolithic site. (My friends laugh at me because I HAVE an all-time favorite Neolithic site, but never mind...). And you were lucky enough to see it in bright sunshine. We've visited twice, both times cloudy and eventually rain, but for me somehow it just adds to the general moodiness and mystery of the site. Think of the stories from those homes!

  5. I have fond memories of going with you and Mary to Skara Brae.

  6. Louise - I know I just love Skara Brae. I see something new every time i visit.

    Bev - we managed to pack quite a bit into that trip didn't we [g]

  7. Thank You for the fotos
    - oh yeah, Skara Brae, and the Orkneys - they are both fascinating extremely - the one in time, the other in region of our world :-)
    I could imagine - after having visited the site online (I had only this possibility) - that there were 2 periods of ancient dwellings:
    the first in about #3180/50 b.o.t. in the houses "No.10 and 9" (a circle of great stones with rectangle house besides it looking to the "polar star" of that time, with interest to find this point, No.10 perhaps some form of light-house-tower, like the neolithic Sardinian Nouraghe-towers leading sailors who followed the coastal line, coming here by free will or by chance (of the powerful Atlantic storms and waves), and they were the "latest" of that peoples who left the great lot of cattle-bones and grains there, since "nobody knows"-times, while the ocean floods stayed 1-2 miles away, starting some farming with first cattle and grain-fruit here in the middle of stone age, later wishing to find this place again by signs of fire for fishing purpose (excuse my English, I haven't the special vocabular)
    - Ancient peoples with cattle-breeding or women with gardening-tradition used not to be fishing-and-sailoring folks, may be the first came by boat-accident, their cattle was proviant - a ship wrecking, but without finding trees here to repair this? - they had to stay, long enough to find wives to marry and have children to stay longtimes)
    - and later came the period for another folk and idea (perhaps in the last 500 years, then?) until about #2500 b.o.t. (then leaving the region by free will of the ancient human population) to have a "hidden dwelling", in the meaning of not to be seen from "anybody", fearing robbers and needing a warm place - in another idea of harbouring inhabitants in winter times, and a refuge for ship-wrecked (pre-scottish neolithic) sailors, because of the ecliptic praecession of the northern pole, the equator went away, winter and storms became more strong, the Atlantic robbed more and more coastal possibilities for farming - and p.e. the colorful "Puffins"-birds colony lost their cliffs to marry and dwell in their summer time, and came to the grass-walls of the human's new "hill" (- I image amused their noises of "clack-clack" (when marrying) and "mooh" in the nights (when breeding and feeding with joy *g*) - lots of their "bowls" seem to be in the rubble to dig-in those stone-houses.
    Those "2nd peoples" (with the pre-idea of dwelling in mountain's walls) had built their own little "mountain"-hill, made up their own home factory and some trade (p.e. with the southern Isle of Hoy for getting Haematit-fire-stone, useful to work with furs) and other neighbours.

  8. ---> - But the precession went on, the Atlantic storms ate away more of the farming meadows and fields, the young people went away and did never come back, only the "everlasting" winds came "as-usual" with huge heaps of coastal sand, it was simple to hide the total remember of dwelling here - until #1850 AC.
    May be, it happened several times to unbury the outer stone-walls by flood, even when later other humans came and settled here until today - but nobody cared, and they weren't interested in building-stone to take this for own purposes, and the sand buried the little "hill-building" again and again.
    - The "wonder" I wonder is, that this "sleeping hill" was never disturbed in 5'000 years by human activity. - If somebody would have opened one of the walls p.e. "No 1" or "No.8", he could have had a cellar - either rooms to store something like dry fish, wool, etc, nor to hide "Pictes" in the Roman times, or Catholic people in the Anglican reformation wars - maybe, if you open the outern stone-wall you meet only the "rubble" behind this and no "rooms" behind a next wall?
    - only the more curious land-owner 7.Laird of Breckness, was interesteted to dig deeper in and saw the 1st four "hidden houses". What a luck :-)

    best greetings,
    (/*_*§) WiT