While visiting Mainland Orkney, do not miss the world-famous archeological site of Skara Brae Orkney. This Neolithic settlement was found well preserved under a sand dune. So it is a unique opportunity to see how people lived 5000 years ago. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
This article contains affiliate Links (info on the Disclosure page). If you purchase using my link, I get a commission at no extra cost to you.
Why visit the Skara Brae archaeological site on Orkney Island?
Skara Brae is one of the most fascinating historical sites in Scotland, in my opinion.
Right by the beach, with typical views of the Orkney islands, you can walk around houses from the neolithic times.
It gives you an idea of how people used to live 5000 years ago!
And they are a really good condition as they were protected by a sand dune.
I enjoyed it so much, it made it on my list of the top things to do in Scotland.
Details, plan and photos after the planning tips.
PLANNING TIPS - Skara Brae, Orkney, Scotland
How to get to Skara Brae on Orkney
- Located on the West Coast of Mainland Orkney
- 15min drive from Stromness,
- 30min from Kirkwall
The GPS coordinates and location on a practical map are available on the Travel Guide eBook, to help you plan your Scotland road trip:
Plan your perfect trip to Scotland!
- 15 maps to easily plan your itinerary
- 170+ selected locations so you don't miss the most beautiful places
- GPS + info to make the most of your time
- 170+ original photos to get inspired
Visiting Skara Brae Orkeney
- Plan 30min to one hour depending on how much you like to read at the museum part
- Easy walk, well maintained paths
- Skara Brae Opening house: April to September – 9:30am to 5:30pm (last entry 4:45pm) – 10am to 4pm in Winter
- Entree fee - £9 for adults - it is included in the Orkney Explorer Pass
- See the latest prices and hours, on the Orkney islands official website
- Tickets include entree to the Skaill House nearby
- Café and toilets at the visitor center
Check out the best rated accommodations on the Orkney islands.
Skara Brae Village - Visitor Center & map
The Skara Brae Orkney site is composed of:
- the Visitor Center (1),
- the replica of a Skara Brae House (2) as it was 5000 years ago,
- the site of Skara Brae village (3)
- and the Skaill House (4)
Below is a map of Skara Brae Orkney:
In the visitor center, your first go through an exhibition before getting access to the site. There you will learn more about:
- how the site was discovered in 1850 when a windstorm revealed it under a sand dune
- how people used to live 5000 years ago
- see artifacts and tools found on the site
The Replica House
After the exhibition, you walk outside and you can first enter the replica of one of the Skara Brae Houses. The site being 5000 years old, it is very fragile. This is why you cannot walk inside the houses but just look at them from above.
So, to allow the visitor to better understand the living set up and conditions during the neolithic, the site has made a replica of House 7 and placed tools and 'furniture' inside. House 7 is the best preserved of the Skara Brae houses providing much information about the living conditions in the settlement.
After exiting the replica house, a well maintain path takes you towards the sea (at the Skaill Bay) and the Sakra Brae on Okrney site.
It is very well done as they have set up stones along the way to create a timeline with significant events in order for the visitor to realize how old the site is.
The Skara Brae houses date back to 3100 BC. Older than Stonehenge (2100BC) and older than the pyramid of Giza (2500 BC)!!!!!
Skara Brae Facts
Many signs provide information along your visit. Here are a few facts about Skara Brae on Orkney:
- It was discovered in 1850 when a windstorm revealed 4 houses and a rich collection of objects
- Skara Brae was built in 2 phases. Not much is know about the oldest one as it would require to dig under the latest houses
- The furniture was made from local flagstones which were easy to shape
- Each house has a stone or wooden slab to serve as a door and could be blocked from the inside
- The Skara Brae Houses typical plan was: rectangular, dresser facing the entrance with prized objects, hearth in the center and box beds on the side
- Skara Brae is part of the Unesco Site 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' with Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness.
Here is a map of the Skara Brae Village:
The Skara Brae Houses
Now let me share some Skara Brae pictures of the houses right next to the beach.
They are really fascinating.
The paths allow you to walk around many of them, admiring from above:
The Skaill House
With your ticket you can also visit the Skaill house, considered one of the finest mansions in Orkney. It has been set up as a museum and you can see how people use to live in the 1950s.
Want to see more of SCOTLAND?
Can you believe it is older than the pyramids?
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Love sharing? Here is another pin for you: