Skara Brae is an incredibly well-preserved Neolithic village in the Orkney Isles off the coast of mainland Scotland.
Characterised by sturdy stone slab structures insulated and protected by the clay and household waste which holds them together, Skara Brae is a stunning example of the high quality of Neolithic workmanship.
Skara Brae was inhabited between 3200 and 2500 BC, although it was only discovered again in 1850 AD after a storm battered the Bay of Skaill on which it sits and unearthed the village. Subsequent excavation uncovered a series of organised houses, each containing what can only be described as “fitted furniture” including a dresser, a central hearth, box beds and a tank which is believed to have be used to house fishing bait.
The inhabitants of Skara Brae built their community on a dichotomy of community life and family privacy, as portrayed by the combination of closely built, homogenous homes compared with the strong doors behind which they conducted their private lives. This sense of a structured community, coupled with the fact that no weapons have been found at the site, sets Skara Brae apart from other Neolithic communities and suggests that this farming community was both tight-knit and peaceful.
Visitors to Skara Brae can tour these original magnificent homes as well as a reconstructed version which really conveys the realities of Neolithic life. The nearby visitor centre holds many of the artifacts found at Skara Brae and offers an insight into the site’s history through touch screen presentations.
Skara Brae is located 31km northwest of Kirkwall on the B9056. Sat Nav users can download instructions to the site on the Historic Scotland website. NorthLink Ferries travel from Aberdeen (6 hrs) and from Scrabster (1.5 hrs) to Orkney 3-4 times a week (seasonal). From Gills Bay (1 hr) and St. Margaret’s Hope, you can take Pentland Ferries 3-4 times a week (seasonal). Flights operate from Edinburgh Airport (1hr 20mins), Glasgow Airport (1hr 20min), Inverness Airport (45mins) Aberdeen Airport (50mins), and Sumburgh Airport (35mins).
Skara Brae is open daily 9:30am-4:30pm (Oct-Mar) and 9:30am-5:30pm (Apr-Sept). Last entry 45 min. prior to closing. May be closed due to bad weather/maintenance. Check ahead. Summer entry costs £6.70 for adults, £3.35 for children, £5.20 reduced. In winter, £5.70 for adults, £2.85 for children, £4.70 reduced.
Skara Brae, Orkney, KW16 3LR
+44 (0)1856 841 815
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