I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Hoping 2017 is a good year for you.
Thought I would share some more images from my summer 2016 trip to the Orkneys and take a look at Skara Brae.
Skara Brae is the best-preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe. This site dates back 5000 years to a time long before Stonehenge or even the Egyptian pyramids were built.
It was once a thriving village and then was lost to history, buried under the sand until a freak storm in 1850 revealed an extraordinary site.
Discovery at Skara Brae
In the winter of 1850, a great storm battered Orkney. The islands are exposed to the fury of the Atlantic on one side and the North Sea on the other. Even in August (when I visited) winds can be high. You can see that is was very wet and windy when we visited this site.
On the occasion of the 1850 storm, the combination of wind and extremely high tides stripped the grass from a large mound to reveal the outline of a number of stone buildings.
The local laird, William Watt, of Skaill, embarked on an excavation of the site in 1868 when the remains of four ancient houses were unearthed. After this, work was abandoned for a generation. Then between 1928 and 1933 more work was done – eventually revealing an entire village.
Dating the Site
In the 1920′s the village was thought to be an Iron Age settlement, dating from around 500BC.
It was radiocarbon dating conducted in the early 70′s that confirmed that the settlement dated from the late Neolithic. It was believed to have been inhabited for around 600 years, between 3100BC and 2500BC.
Chambers and Passages
Skara Brae was fortunate in that due to the protection offered by the sand that covered it for forty centuries, the buildings, and their contents, are incredibly well-preserved.
The site has eight dwellings, linked together by a series of low, covered passages. Many of the walls of the structures and even the roofs were intact.
Each of the eight houses are built to the same basic design. There is a large square room, a central fireplace and beds raised on stone shelves on either side. There is even a stone dresser and food storage pits.
The site was lived in for six centuries. The inhabitants piled up rubbish and refuge in the passage ways and rooms until Skara Brae became embedded in its own garbage. It is also believe that the sand dunes encroached on the site so that around 2500 BC the village was finally abandoned.
The visitor centre has a nice museum about the site complete with movie, finds and a small reconstruction of part of passageway and one of the houses.
Hope you enjoyed the trip.