History of Skara Brae Neolithic Village Archaeological Site , Orkney, Scotland.



Skara Brae Neolithic village photos, pictures & images




The History of Skara Brae

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Skara Brae, situated on the Island of Orkney off the north coast of Scotland, has been described as the Pompeii of the Neolithic Age. Until the winter of 1850 Skara Brae was unknown and lay buried below a high sand dune known locally as Skerrabra. A fierce storm that winter not only killed 200 people in Scotland but also washed away the sand dune to reveal the outline of some stone buildings. The site is close by to the Manor house of the then local laird William Watt of Skaill who started excavating Skara Brae but gave up and it became a playground for the children of the house.


In 1925 another storm washed away some of the remains and Skara Brae and revealed more buildings but it was not until It was not until 1927 that the site was investigated by University of Edinburgh's Professor Vere Gordon Childe. This led to a serious excavation of the site and the building of a protective seawall. The excavated buildings were in such good preservation that Childe dated them at about 500BC as he assumed the remains were of an iron age Broch village , of which there are many examples on Orkney such as the broch of Gurness .


Skara Brae Neolithic Age Prehistoric Village remains

In 1972 carbon dating revealed that the site dated back to around 3180 BC and was therefore one of the most important Neolithic sites in Europe. Full excavation has since revealed Skara Brae as Europe's most complete Neolithic village which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The houses of Skara Brae were round stone built dwellings with no windows. The roofs would have had been made of turf supported by wooden poles. Inside the dwellings were stone furniture, hearths, stone troughs & beds. The buildings have gullies that run outside for drainage and the site of a toilet has also been found..


Skara Brae Neolithic Age Prehistoric Village remains

Today it is possible to walk around the village and look down into the houses. The scene is one of domestic comfort with features that are very familiar. The entrance to the rooms was by a low tunnel door which had a door which could be locked with a sliding wood bar. At the opposite end of the round room was a stone dresser where trinkets were found. On the right side of the room was a large bed and on the left a smaller one. Stone partitions surrounded the beds within which bracken and animal furs would have been laid. Set into the floors are stone troughs which may have been filled with water to hold the bait of the fishermen that lived in these houses. Stone seats and cupboards added to the comfort of the houses which also had a drainage system and a toilet pit outside each house.


The piles of shells found outside the houses indicate precisely what the diet of the villagers was. The reason Skara Brae was abandoned is a matter of much discussion. The most likely theory is that the weather became colder and the fishing became harder making it impossible for Neolithic people to live on the islands.


It is possible to get an insight into Neolithic living at Skara Brae and looking out into the bay of Skaill it is not hard to imagine the boats on the beach of a thriving fishing community. This was a sophisticated community that built great monuments like the nearby Ring of Brodgar and burial chambers like Maes Howe. The sea allowed Neolithic people to trade over great distances and exchange ideas with other settlements of the Neolithic world along the coast of northern Europe.



Where Is Skara Brae?

 

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Coordinates: 59.048611°N 3.343056°W

Coordinates: 59.048611, -3.343056

 

 

Neolithic Orkney Documentary

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