In 1850, a wild storm engulfed the isle of Orkney, ripping the grass from the Skara Brae sand dune to reveal 5,000-year-old stone dwellings. Older than the Egyptian pyramids, older even than Stonehenge, Skara Brae is remarkable in how well it’s been preserved. Even the neolithic furniture is intact: stone beds, chairs and dressers that were used by the prehistoric fishermen, hunters and farmers can all be seen here.
Set by the sandy bay of Skaill and run by Historic Scotland, Skara Brae is said to be the best preserved prehistoric settlement in Northern Europe. An important part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage site, the well-equipped visitor center houses an interactive museum, gift shop, cafe and an impressive recreation of how one of the dwellings may have looked when it was lived in thousands of years ago.
At the site, you can also see impressive archaeological discoveries like primitive dice, jewelry and stone sculptures that are thought to have been used in religious ceremonies. No weapons have ever been found here though; it seems like the people of Skara Brae were a peace-loving lot.
From May to September on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, buses run to Skara Brae from Orkney's two main hubs: Stromness and Kirkwall. From April to September, the site is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. From October to March, Skara Brae closes earlier at 4:30 p.m. Adult tickets cost 7.10 GBP, which includes a visit to Skaill House; an Orkney mansion.