Skara Brae has been nominated for the top UK heritage site of the year in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, the only Scottish attraction on this year’s shortlist. But we are facing stiff competition from Durham Cathedral, Rutland Water, Tenby and Stonehenge so we need your help to win!
We caught up with Phil Hopkins, one of our stewards at Skara Brae, who has given us his top 8 reasons why Skara Brae is so special:
- Skara Brae is the best preserved Neolithic village in the UK. 5000 years ago, people were living out their lives here, before the pyramids were built and before the stones at Stonehenge had been raised.
- Skara Brae is the only place in the UK where you can see how Neolithic people lived out their daily lives. Whilst the UK has many sites showing how spiritual and ceremonial life was conducted, Skara Brae gives a unique insight into the other side of life in the Neolithic. As far as we can tell, the village was occupied by normal everyday people, farmers and fisherman who would have raised their own animals, grown their own crops and fished and foraged for natural resources.
- Skara Brae was inhabited for around 600 years; many generations of people (between 25 and 30) were born, lived out their lives and died here. This long occupation period indicates that life here was very successful.
- The houses at Skara Brae are so well preserved you can still see the stone furniture the inhabitants used, including the beds that they slept in and the cupboards they used to store and display their possessions. The replica house on site gives an evocative impression of how the houses would have looked when complete.
- As well as the finely constructed houses, a huge range of artefacts survived at Skara Brae. These are incredibly important and tell us a great deal about how the occupants lived, the food they ate, the jewellery they wore and the technology they used. Many of the items found at Skara Brae can be viewed up close in the visitor centre
- As well as being a fantastic archaeological site, Skara Brae is located in a beautiful coastal location. The site is nestled on the sandy shoreline of Skaill Bay, facing out into the North Atlantic Ocean. The rich coastal habitat provides protection and sustenance for a diverse range of birds and wildlife.
- The people who settled at Skara Brae were one of the earliest farming communities in the British Isles. They had to learn how to divide up resources, determine land boundaries, farm the land and organise communities, as well as dealing with the effects of climate change and sea level rise!
- Skara Brae dispels many myths about life in the Neolithic being primitive. The village is well thought out and carefully constructed, and the houses would have been warm and cosy. The people living here decorated their pottery with artistic designs, wore beads and jewellery, and skilfully carved elaborate stone objects.