The Ancient Site of Skara Brae


The Neolithic settlement, Skara Brae, is one of the best preserved in all of Western Europe and is very likely to be on the forefront of most visitors’ minds. Older than Stonehenge, radiocarbon dating has confirmed that this settlement dates from around 3200 – 2200 BC.

Remarkably, this prehistoric village of eight houses wasn’t uncovered until 1850, and it was by chance when a storm blew in and both the winds and the tides stripped the grass from the mound known locally as “Skerrabra”. Since then, there have been numerous excavations and a sea wall built in an effort to protect the site from any future storms.

Visitors to the site today can explore the village. Each house has fitted stone furniture and there are many artefacts on display too in the nearby visitor centre. Skara Brae is open to the public year round (excluding Christmas and New Year). There is a café and gift shop (closed in winter).

There are other sites on Orkney that combined with Skara Brae make up the ‘Heart of Neolithic Orkney’. Be sure to also visit Maeshoew (chambered cairn), the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar.