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Sandwick, Scotland

Skara Brae

Amazing and mysterious Neolithic settlement on Scotland's Orkney Islands. 

Skara Brae is the ruins of a Neolithic settlement (3100-2500 BCE), located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland Orkney, Scotland.

Skara Brae’s inhabitants are thought to have been makers and users of “grooved ware,” a distinctive pottery style developed in northern Scotland not long before the establishment of the settlement.

Skara Brae consists of ten clustered houses built of flat stones stacked within earthen dams, without mortar. Given the number of homes in the community, it seems likely that no more than fifty people lived in Skara Brae at any given time.

The dwellings contain a number of stone-built pieces of furniture, including cupboards, dressers, seats, and storage boxes. A number of enigmatic carved stone artifacts have been found at the site. The purpose of these remains debated among scholars.

It is also thought to be one of the earliest settlements to have a toilet and sewer system of some sort. Each individual hut released its waste into a central drainage system that carried it to the ocean. The stone drains were thought to be 14 to 24 inches high and lined with tree bark to make them watertight.

Skara Brae is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Know Before You Go

19 miles north west of Kirkwall on the B9056

Tel: +44 (0)1856 841 815
+44 (0)1856 841 501 (Skaill House)