|The ruins of Skara Brae face the Bay of Skaill|
Art and I visited Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands in late August 1992 as part of the celebration of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We rode a train north from Edinburgh to John O’Groats and took a ferry from there to the islands. It was an amazing trip back in time as we viewed the remains of the village where people had lived for nearly 600 years. After they left, wind blew sand from the surrounding dunes over the village and buried it. For thousands of years Skara Brae was forgotten.
|Skara Brae and the manor house of the Laird of Skaill|
|Shallow basins in the floor may have held fish bait or a supply of fresh water.|
Of all the ancient sites in the Orkneys, Skara Brae is among the most remarkable. As we peered over the village walls, it was not hard to imagine families sitting around their hearths long ago talking and eating while children played and neighbors came to visit. With firelight dancing across the walls and winter winds roaring outside, these sturdy stone houses would have been a welcome retreat from the weather and places where people could feel safe and secure.
|The standing stones of the Ring of Brodgar are about six miles from Skara Brae. They were erected during the same period that people lived at Skara Brae.|
You can read more about Skara Brae and the Orkney Islands in my book Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea (Clarion, 1997). It is out of print but available online and in libraries. Or, you can download it to your Kindle.
Update July 21, 2014: For information about the most recent neolithic discoveries in the Orkneys, check out the August 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine.