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Scottish fact of the day: Orkney home to the oldest building in Britain

Skara Brae in Orkney is Britain's oldest building. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Skara Brae in Orkney is Britain's oldest building. Picture: Donald MacLeod

  • by REBECCA MONKS
 

Skara Brae, the Neolithic settlement located on the island of Orkney, is the oldest building in Britain.

The settlement, which dates from 3100 BC, is situated near the Bay of Skaill in Orkney. The site lay undiscovered until the winter of 1850, when a storm destroyed the grassy high dune known as Skara Brae and exposed the ancient village beneath it. It is believed that the settlement was inhabited centuries before Stonehenge was built, and long before work began on the pyramids in Egypt

The settlement, which has been preserved thanks to the abundance of sand that covered it, gives a dramatic insight in to life in Orkney 5,000 years ago.

The village is currently made up of eight small structures that are linked together. All of the houses share the same design. Each are made up of one large room of roughly 40 square metres, which contains a bed, a fireplace and a shelved dresser. The buildings are connected by a series of passages.

Numerous artefacts have been discovered on the site, including hand tools and pottery, and as no weapons have been found on the site historians believe that its inhabitants led a peaceful life.

In 1999 it was added to the World Heritage List, meaning that not only is Skara Brae the oldest building in Britain, it is also recognised as as one of the best preserved Neolithic settlements in the world.

 

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