The Barnhouse Neolithic Settlement

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beside the Loch of Harray (Mainland, Orkney), on an area measuring 80m x 60m, are the reconstructed remains of a Neolithic settlement, similar to the better preserved Skara Brae.

The site was severely damaged by ploughing: only the bases of the houses have survived, but the excavated remains have been reconstructed. In the houses, there are central kerbed hearths, bed alcoves and stone dressers.

The base courses of at least 15 houses have been found. These houses have similarities to Skara Brae in that they have central hearths, beds built against the walls and stone dressers, but differ in that the houses seem to have been free-standing. Pottery of the grooved ware type was found, as at the Stones of Stenness and Skara Brae. Flint and stone tools were found, as well as a piece of pitchstone thought to have come from the Isle of Arran.

The largest building had a room about 7 m (23 ft) square with walls 3 m (10 ft) thick and an entrance facing towards the north west so that the midsummer sunset shines along the passageway, with similarities to some chambered cairns.

Throughout the settlement there is a complex series of ditches and drains. There must have been a relationship between Barnhouse inhabitants and the nearby ceremonial site of the Stones of Stenness.






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