Prehistoric Orkney, Scotland

Image above shows interior of dwelling at Skara Brae.

This evening, I am posting summary information on a selection of the best prehistoric sites on Orkney which comprises a group of islands lying off the north coast of Scotland.

Skara Brae Neolithic Village

Located in Sandwick, this stone-age village was in use between 2500 BC and 3100 BC (approx.). Now located on the shore (which is eroding) it is possible the village may have originally been situated close to a fresh-water loch (lake) and well back from the sea. It appears likely that a cataclysmic event, such as a exceptionally violent storm, caused the occupation levels to be covered in sand forcing occupants away with structures and contents frozen in time. The forces of nature intervened again, in 1850, when another storm disturbed the sand covering and exposed the stone village thus acting as a catalyst to archaeological excavation.

Ring of Brodgar (or Brogar)

Comprises a henge and stone circle located on a gentle slop overlooking the sea (ocean) in all directions. There was a pathway linking Brodgar with nearby Stennes (below).There is a 340 ft diameter circle which now consists of 29 stones out of original 60.With area of 90790 sq ft Brodgar is third largest in Britain and larger than Stonehenge. Individual stones are 7ft high on average with but with taller stones at two cardinal points.The Ring is believed to date from the 3rd millennium BC although firm dating evidence is scarce.


This is a chambered cairn dating from  c 2800 BC. Unfortunately, photography of the interior is prohibited. Inside, a low access passage (which is aligned with the winter solstice) leads to a central chamber where large, smooth slabs of sandstone rise into a square, corbelled ceiling. Precision of the interior stonework is to be admired.

Stones of Stennes

Ranks as one of the earliest henge monuments in Britain with date of around 3000 BC. Originally, the circle comprised 12 tall stones of which only four remain standing today.. The tallest of the stones reaches a height of 18ft 9ins.

Barnhouse Settlement

This dates from same period at Stennes and, being in close proximity to Stennes the two sites may have been connected in some way.

On-going Archaeology

The Ness of Brodgar, a strip of land close to the Stones of Stennes has proved to be extremely rich in prehistoric archaeology and may represent a site of greater importance and complexity than one intended for domestic use.It may have represented a communal meeting point for not only Oracdians but others from much further afield.

Below is Ness of Brodgar in middle distance as viewed from Maeshowe


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