A 5,000-year-old Stone Age village on Scotland’s Skara Brae, Orkney, predates the Egyptian pyramids. The village was abandoned so suddenly that rooms filled with stone-age furniture, and other belongings, were left as they stood.
The people who built these dwellings were ingenious. The houses had creature comforts such as beds, dressers, and cupboards. They were all made of stone because wood was hard to come by. From what they left behind, archaeologists know these people hunted, fished, and farmed.
Eventually, the sands blew in and covered the homes. They ghost town was left to slumber, until a mighty storm uncovered the structures. Subsequent excavations found nine similar houses linked by winding passageways. The walls were made of dry-laid stones and buried, which probably provided insulation.
This Neolithic Village, concealed for centuries beneath the sand, is a must-see on Orkney. It offers a unique window into an unimaginable world of domesticity. A visit to Skara Brae suggests that ancient people, just as they do today, made their homes cozy nooks, regardless of materials at hand. They did not live in miserable hovels.
A reconstructed house by the visitor center shows how the houses were made homey with animal skins. Bracken would also have helped make the dwellings cozy, and fragments of jewelry and pottery give us even more of a picture of these people. We don’t know much about them, but it’s easy to imagine them fixing their fishing hooks, protecting themselves against the weather, cuddling up with their extended families and friends, and showing off their latest piece of jewelry.
Zip into the future to the year 1620 AD, same area. The Skaill House, the finest Mansion in Orkney, is surrounded by lovely gardens. But, when the house was being built, many skeletons were found. The house was probably built on a Pre-Christian Pictish Cemetery.
This area has been a favored spot for many over thousands of years. It’s no wonder that many visitors and locals think it’s haunted!