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Skara Brae

Overview

Skara Brae is the best preserved Neolithic village in Europe and is a very popular attraction on Orkney. As a result it has a much better visitor centre than any of the other Neolithic sites on the Orkney Islands.

You start the visit with a short audio-visual presentation and small display area showing some of the artefacts found during excavations. You then step outside and walk a short distance to a replica re-construction of one of the Skara Brae houses. This is one of the most interesting parts of the visit as it gives you a very real sense of how life would have been in Skara Brae 5,000 years ago. The replica house is furnished with animal skins and other items that make it appear lived in. It seems surprisingly refined and we wouldn't have minded spending the night here.

You then walk a short distance to Skara Brae village via a scenic path along the edge of the beach at Bay of Skaill. The path has the interesting feature of marker stones which indicate a timeline of important historical events. The passage of years is proportional to the distance you walk and it takes you from Man landing on the moon in 1969, through the construction of the Pyramids & Stonehenge to Skara Brae. This really helps you to put into perspective how amazing it is that Skara Brae village has been preserved in such an intact state.

The village that you see today is a settlement of 9 houses, which you view from a path that meanders around the boundary of the village. For conservation reasons, you cannot wander through the rooms of the houses, but this doesn't detract from the experience as you can clearly see into the rooms. As with Maeshowe and other sites on Orkney, it is the craftsmanship of the stonework and the surprising sophistication of Neolithic life which makes these places so fascinating. The "dressers" in house 1 and house 7 are particularly intriguing items as they are though to have been used like display cabinets for treasured family items.

Skara Brae is a common spot for coach party stops so you may find that there are quite a few other visitors.

Save money on visiting this attraction by buying an Explorer Pass

Read our Travel Blog for more information on the best things to do in Orkney.

Address:

Skara Brae, Bay of Skaill, Orkney, KW16 3LR, 01856 841815

Operated by:

Historic Environment Scotland

Opening Hours:

Summer: April to September, Monday to Sunday 9.30am to 5.30pm (Last entry 4:45pm) Winter: October to March, Monday to Sunday 10am to 4pm (Last entry 3:15pm) Closed 25th and 26th December, check for opening times on the 1st January.

Admission:

Adult £ 9, Senior £ 7.20, Child £ 5.40 (inclusive of Skaill House) Adult £ 7, Senior £ 5.60, Child £ 4.20 (for Skara Brae alone)

Parking:

Yes

Languages:

English (Audio video show and information boards)

Accessibility:

From the visitor centre to the village, there is a path with a good surface. The path around the village has some steps and would not be so suitable for wheelchair users to do the full loop, but they could see most of the site.

Toilets:

Yes

Shop:

Yes

Cafe/Restaurant:

Yes

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