Orkney's Skara Brae shortlisted as UK's best heritage site

The prehistoric village of Skara Brae on Orkney is in the running to be named the best heritage site in the UK.

Skara Brae, Orkney. PIC Donald MacLeod/TSPL
Skara Brae, Orkney. PIC Donald MacLeod/TSPL

The 5,000-year-old settlement is the only Scottish visitor attraction on the shortlist drawn up by travel writer Bill Bryson for the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.

Bryson described Skara Brae as “miraculously preserved” and said it looked as it had been vacated “only yesterday.”

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He said: “Orkney has the greatest concentration of archaeological sites in Scotland, but none is more arresting than this miraculously preserved Neolithic village.

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“The eight stone dwellings, uncovered by a 19th Century storm, are roofless but otherwise intact. They are older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Egypt and yet they feel as if they were vacated only yesterday.”

Members of the public have until Tuesday February 28 to cast their vote online and choose a winner.

Skara Brae, which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, is up against strong competition.

Stonehenge, Durham Cathedral, the historic seaside town of Tenby and the artificial lake of Rutland Water are also in the running.

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at Historic Environment Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic that Skara Brae is among those nominated for this UK wide accolade – made doubly special as we celebrate Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“With a history stretching back 5,000 years Skara Brae continues to captivate audiences and visitors from across the country and further afield. More than 68,000 people explore the historic site for themselves each year, gaining a real insight into how our remote ancestors might once have lived.

“We’re encouraging our visitors and members of the public to back Skara Brae and cast their vote to help see it named Heritage Site of the Year.”