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Neolithic Architecture: Skara Brae

On the largest island, of Orkneys, in Scotland, are 10 homes, made of earth dammed flagstone.
Included are stone hearths, beds, and cupboards. Because of the preservation of earth dammed flagstone, It is still one of Europes most complete Neolithic villages. They even had stone sewers that took water to and from the ocean.


Discovery:
Causing damage and over 200 known deaths, in 1850 a storm uncovered Skara Brae. Owners of the property discovered four houses but abandoned the project 18 years later. Eventually the site was raided, in 1913 by a group who took away unknown artifacts. In 1924, a storm swept away one of the houses, and it was decided in 1927, that the University of Edinburghs must properly investigate this site.


The houses were basically pit houses (sunk into mounds), with protection from rain. They were about 430 square feet, with stone hearths for heating and cooking. Given there remote location, it was not known what they burned (seaweed, driftwood, waste, peat, cattle, sheep, fishbones, everything?) Though comfy, it would have been hard to have more than 50 people there.


In 1972, the university determined the site was occupied from around 3200 BC to 2500 BC, they unearthed grains, ivory pins, killer whale teeth, walrus ivory, carving, body paints, neolithic weavings and more. There have been all kinds of theories about the people there.
Historical environment Scotlands, “Statement of Significance” for the site sums it up well and is:
The monuments at the heart of Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae proclaim the triumphs of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places. They were approximately contemporary with the mastabas of the archaic period of Egypt (first and second dynasties), the brick temples of Sumeria, and the first cities of the Harappa culture in India, and a century or two earlier than the Golden Age of China. Unusually fine for their early date, and with a remarkably rich survival of evidence, these sites stand as a visible symbol of the achievements of early peoples away from the traditional centres of Civilizations.

Including in theories of who lived at Skara Brae, are popular theories of magicians, and a low wizards road to additional sites in southern England. Here’s to civilizations!

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