Day 7: 17 August 2019 ~ Skara Brae
- Location: Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland
- Date Taken: 2019-08-17
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
- Lens: Canon Zoom Lens EF-S 18-200 mm F/3-5.6 IS
- Exposure Program: Manual
- Image Quality: JPEG
- F-Stop: f/5.6
- Exposure Time: 1/320 sec
- ISO Speed: ISO-320
- Focal Length: 130 mm
- Metering Mode: Center Weighted Average
Our visit to Skara Brae was a very quick one. I had about 5 minutes left before closing time. Everybody was heading out and I was the only one running to capture at least one or two photos. When I got to the site one of the tour guides was still there. He was very kind and told me I can stay and take photos as long as I do not go down the stairs into the display.
Skara Brae is a stone-built Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Mainland, the largest island in the Orkney archipelago of Scotland. Consisting of ten clustered houses, made of flagstones, in earthen dams that provided support for the walls; the houses included stone hearths, beds, and cupboards. A primitive sewer system, with “toilets” and drains in each house, carried effluent to the ocean.
The inhabitants of Skara Brae were makers and users of grooved ware, a distinctive style of pottery that had recently appeared in northern Scotland. The houses used earth sheltering, being sunk into the ground. They were sunk into mounds of pre-existing prehistoric domestic waste known as middens. This provided the houses with a stability and also acted as insulation against Orkney’s harsh winter climate. On average, each house measures 40 square meters with a large square room containing a stone hearth used for heating and cooking. Given the number of homes, it seems likely that no more than fifty people lived in Skara Brae at any given time.
It is not clear what material the inhabitants burned in their hearths. Childe was sure that the fuel was peat, but a detailed analysis of vegetation patterns and trends suggests that climatic conditions conducive to the development of thick beds of peat did not develop in this part of Orkney until after Skara Brae was abandoned. Other possible fuels include driftwood and animal dung. There is evidence that dried seaweed may have been used significantly. At some sites in Orkney, investigators have found a glassy, slag-like material called “kelp” or “cramp” that may be residual burnt seaweed.
The dwellings contain a number of stone-built pieces of furniture, including cupboards, dressers, seats, and storage boxes. Each dwelling was entered through a low doorway that had a stone slab door that could be closed “by a bar that slid in bar-holes cut in the stone door jambs”. A number of dwellings offered a small connected antechamber, offering access to a partially covered stone drain leading away from the village. It is suggested that these chambers served as indoor privies.
Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland one Photo at a time. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.
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Till next time, safe travels and keep dreaming.
Have a fabulous day.
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