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Skara Brae, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Several years ago we watched ‘A History of Britain’ by Simon Schama to get an idea of places we wanted to visit on our 2014 UK trip. This BBC documentary begins in the stone-age village of Skara Brae. It immediately went down on our bucketlist but unfortunately it was located too far north for our first UK trip. Fast forward to our second UK trip and this UNESCO World Heritage Site made it to the must-do on our itinerary list.

We arrived on a very cold & blustery spring morning. As soon as we stepped out of our car, we could smell Skara Brae. Or rather, the cows that inhabit the property next to the site. The wind whipped the very, very strong odor everywhere; there really was no escaping it. I understand why Skara Brae was abandoned –I can’t imagine breathing that air for more than a few hours, let alone 600 years. Just kidding, just kidding. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that the smell may have been a factor in speeding up our visit.

Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Entrance to Skara Brae is through the visitor center. It is a short walk to the actual site, about a quarter of a mile.

Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Along the trail are stones listing the age of several major sites, Skara Brae being the oldest. It’s older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza.

Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
This Neolithic settlement was hidden beneath layers upon layers of soil. It was discovered in the 1850s when a severe storm stripped the grass and soil from a large mound.

Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/

Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
We were very surprised by how small Skara Brae is in person. In the History of Britain, it seemed to loom quite large.

Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/

Map of the Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Stone hearth of the Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Stone hearth of the Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Stone hearth of the Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
Interior replica of the Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/
The prehistoric village itself is protected from visitors but there are replicas in which we were able to crawl through and explore.

Interior replica of the Ruins of Neolithic Skara Brae, a prehistoric village in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, UK - American Expeditioners http://americanexpeditioners.com/skara-brae/

Skara Brae Overview

  • Coordinates: 59.0487479,-3.3417094
  • Fees: £14.20/adult
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Usage: Moderate
  • Pets allowed: No
Tags : orkney