Discover the secrets of Orkney’s earliest inhabitants and find out what life was like during prehistoric times at this beautifully preserved ancient village.
Learn about prehistoric life at Skara Brae, a small settlement that, despite being thousands of years old, still retains its original shape and structure. The buildings here form one of the best preserved sites of its kind in the British Isles. The layout of the ancient village is still intact, with several of the houses even displaying their original furnishings.
Historians believe that Skara Brae is about 5,000 years old, which means that a community existed here before the pyramids were built. The site was discovered in 1850 when a storm revealed the remnants of the village beneath coastal sand dunes. Stop at the visitor center to read more about the history of this remarkable heritage destination and see artifacts unearthed during archaeological digs. Interactive displays and quizzes help visitors engage with the story of the village.
Explore houses that were once inhabited by Stone Age Orcadians. Fireplaces, beds and even shelves still stand in the stone-walled buildings. Venture inside the replica house that was created to provide an idea of how these houses looked in prehistoric times.
Not all the buildings in this Neolithic settlement were residences. Head to House Eight, which is believed to have been a workshop as it doesn't feature any of the furniture of the domestic structures. Two bodies found in House Seven, one of the best preserved buildings on the site, indicate that it could have been a prison or tomb.
The burial mound at Maeshowe and the stone circles at Brodgar and Stenness are also part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO site. Visit all four major monuments to find out more about the ancient communities of the archipelago.
Skara Brae is about 15 minutes from Stromness by car and about 30 minutes from Kirkwall. Find a gift shop, café and parking at the site. Opening times are shorter in winter. If you plan to visit other key sites on the islands, consider purchasing an Orkney Explorer Pass, as this combination ticket provides access to Skara Brae as well as other attractions such as Maeshowe and the Bishop's Palace.