Friday, September 16, 2016

Ancient History in Scotland


Nestled in the mossy, green hills on the Orkney Islands off Scotland
is a secret older than the great pyramids of Egypt.
At first, it might not look like much, but the fact is, this is a unique and
magical place.

Because within this rolling hillside is a perfectly preserved prehistoric
village called Skara Brae.
The winter of 1850 hit Orkney hard. A severe storm caused great
devastation and resulted in more than 200 deaths.  But it also revealed
something long forgotten. When the storm abated, villagers discovered
a settlement under the sand.
The settlement consists of eight stone houses and was inhabited
between roughly 3180 and 2500 B.C., making Skara Brae one of the
oldest agriculture villages in the UK.
Skara Brae has been called the "Scottish Pompeii" because the
ancient monument is so well preserved. Since the surrounding sand
and the buildings' architecture were well protected against the cold,
both the buildings and their contents have been remarkably preserved
throughout the millennia.
Archaeologists estimate that 50-100 people lived in the village. When
the settlement was built, the houses were 1,500 [metres] from the sea. 
Now, the sea has dug closer to the village and the view from the
settlement has changed from pastures to the sea.
The settlement's seven or eight houses were connected to each other
by tunnels. Each residence could be closed off with a stone door.
In every room, one bed was always bigger than the other, but no one
knows why.  Each room also contains cabinets, dressers, seats, and
storage boxes. These boxes were built to be waterproof, suggesting
that they might have stored live seafood for later consumption.
One house is distinct from the other, however. Archaeologists didn't
find any beds or other furniture. The house is believed to have
functioned as a workshop.
Amazingly, the village also had a sewage system and each house had
its own toilet.
Skara Brae was a society which centred around families. The
dwellings are all quite similar, which led archaeologists to conclude
that this society was a fairly equal one, without any authoritative leadership.
Some believe that the villagers were Picts, a people of unknown origin
who settled in eastern and northern Scotland near the end of the British
Iron Age. But archaeological findings have shown that the people who
lived here could have lived much earlier than that.
A number of mysterious discoveries have been made at the site, including
this carved stone ball, though no one really knows what it was used for.
And no one knows why the village was abandoned. But around 2500 B.C.,
the Orkney Islands became cooler and wetter. Many theories speculate about
how the people of Skara Brae met their fate; the most popular ones
involve a violent storm.
What's the future look like for Skara Brae? Although the settlement was built nearly
two [kilometres] from the beach, in recent centuries, it has been increasingly threatened
by the sea. Since 1926, the houses have been protected from the approaching sea and
harsh autumn winds by a concrete wall.
There has been talk about building an artificial beach with boulders and breakwater
to preserve Skara Brae and several other ancient monuments at risk of being destroyed.
But nothing has happened yet.  Until further notice, tourists continue to visit this fascinating
place, but the question is for how long?
I personally hope that the Scottish Government will do all they can
to preserve this amazing place.
Please share this with others so that more people get the chance to discover the wonder that is history!



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