Skara Brae and the Maeshowe Tomb

For Ed Mooney’s great History Challenge on Wednesday-

skaill bay fadedIn the winter of 1850 a wild North Sea storm uncovered Neolithic ruins at Skaill Bay on the Orkney Islands of Scotland.  Further excavations and study determined that a small village of  10 homes had been established there circa 3500 BC.  All the homes were the same in size and structure. This little egalitarian community of around 50 people had come together before the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built.

Skara Brae tecture

The dig yielded many artifacts including pottery, tools, jewelry, and even gaming dice which are preserved in the museum in Kirkwall.  The houses had a central hearth,  bed boxes and cupboards all made from stone. As trees struggle to survive on the storm blown islands it is speculated that the inhabitants may have used drift wood from the beaches for their fires. No war-like weapons were discovered and the people were most likely peaceful farmers who also fished for sustenance. Sometime around 2500 BC the village was abandoned.

 

skarabrae door
the winding passageways and low doorways kept out the winds

 

skara brae village
Skara Brae with Skaill House in distance

The Orkneys are home to the famous Ring of Brodgar and Stones of Stenness which also date back to before the pyramids.the land of the standing stones3

These are part of the Henge Monuments, but who built them and why is still surrounded in some mystery.

stones of Brodgar, Orkneys
the Ring of Brodgar, Orkneys
Stones of Stenness

A bit further from the famous stones is the Maeshowe Tomb. This site is very similar to those found in Ireland and are from the same period.

 

 

It is a  burial mound with ceremonial significance.  The placement of the doorway aligns with the  winter solstice. Interestingly on the inside walls of  Maeshowe  are Viking runes.  One possible and colourful story is that a group of vikings sought shelter in the tomb during a storm. It might have been a bit frightening to find themselves in an ancient burial chamber, and there probably was not much in the way of plunder,  so in the bravado of the day- as well as one of those culturally defining moments, (loosely translated)- are scratched the words “Eric was here and looted the place.

Ring of Brodgar

Also check out this post on St. Magnus Cathedral and John Rae on the Orkneys.

47 Comments Add yours

  1. betunada says:

    Fascinating stuff, especially when a storm can uncover something like that. (Reminds me that during the 1960-something Alaska quake, a Russian settlement from the 1700’s was exposed !)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for reading Betunada!! I will have to look up that Russian settlement!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Maria F. says:

    Amazing post processing Cybele! I love the magic you always add.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate so much your lovely comments Maria!

      Like

  3. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks.Deeply,mysterioiusly fascinating and beautifully illustrated. Regards Thom

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so pleased you enjoyed the post!! Thank you Thom!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ali Isaac says:

    Fabulous post, Cybele! I would so love to visit here one day. Interestingly, there is a similar story abut Know th, part of the ancient Newgrange complex. Medieval looters broke in and tried to remove an ancient carved stone cauldron. It was so big it got stuck halfway Down the narrow passageway, where they had to abandon it, but not before scratching their names in the wall… ancient graffiti! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Ali! I hope you do. Its really fascinating- people through the ages- there is a lot of graffiti on the walls of ancient Pompeii too,- much of it political insults and a lot of it very raunchy public washroom stuff!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ali Isaac says:

        Ah… that’s another place I have always longed to go!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. DG MARYOGA says:

    You have magically rewound time,you stunningly travelled me so back in time,dear Cybele!Fabulous photos with ages-old Neolithic stone ruins and great references to historic Scotland!The nature-based placement of the doorway in the Maes howe Tomb and the Viking runes are of great cultural value too.Superb your choice for the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much Doda . Have you seen them!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DG MARYOGA says:

        No,I haven’t,I’ll next time though,thanks to your inspirational post 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful and evocative post loved the standing stones shot

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you for commenting!!

      Like

  7. Peter Nena says:

    I love your history pieces about ancient ruins. From the Mayans to the Henge. Thank you for sharing them Cybele. Do enjoy your weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from you Peter!! Thank you for your encouraging support! Enjoy the weekend too!

      Like

  8. Such as a great history, your photos are incredible good. Thank you for sharing Cybele!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. many thanks and appreciation Della for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. poppytump says:

    It’s astonishing what comes to light … and one can only wonder what brought about the change ….
    I love your pictures here … the Ring is very striking Hannah . Glad those clouds behaved for you 😉 Nice work !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad you liked this post Poppy! Thank you!

      Like

  10. sedge808 says:

    wow. amazing place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it is!! thanks Gavin!

      Like

  11. Fascinating history! I love the clouds above the stones of Brodgar! They make the site more dramatic and mysterious.

    In my head I thought the Vikings were very superstitious, and wouldn’t have ventured into the burial ground, but perhaps that’s just my perception and apparently not a reality. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes it seems like they wouldn’t but they were there and probably scared- hence the bravado lol! thanks Deborah!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I loved seeing Skara Brae. Your images really bring out the beauty of the spot. Can you imagine discovering such a place under a sand dune!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish!! we’d be famous!! Thanks so much Pam!

      Like

  13. Mark Simms says:

    Great images Cyb and brought back fond memories

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet!! Thanks Mark!

      Like

  14. Adrian Lewis says:

    Great pictures, Cybele, what a fascinating place! I love such ancient history but I’ve never been to Orkney – most of my time “in such times” has been around Avebury (especially) and Stonehenge. Adrian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. put it on your list!! Thanks Adrian!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Fascinating and beautifully illustrated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank so much Sherry!

      Like

  16. So interesting, just cannot imagine sleeping on a bed made out of stone Wendy

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. me neither, though I’m sure it was full of stuffs and furs!! Thanks Wendy!

      Like

  17. katieprior says:

    Gorgeous photos Cybele! It looks such an amazing place, I must get there some day, you describe it so beautifully. I love the Viking graffiti!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. me too- it was quite amusing!! and yes you must go some day! Thank you Katie!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. A wonderous site with a wealth of history, great images, I especially love the Ring of Brodgar 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Ed and for the weekly challenge!!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Sue says:

    A place I would love to see…I think you’ve done a great job with these images…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. sheldonk2014 says:

    What a great piece of history
    One of the mysteries of life
    Great post
    As always Sheldon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much Sheldon!

      Like

  21. My dad’s name was Eric and he got around!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha- a tomb robber eh!!?

      Like

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