Skara Brae is an outcrop of land in Orkney, Scotland. The people that lived here did so before Stonehenge was even built. or before the Pyramids were a twinkle in anyone’s eye, and was built around 3150 BCE.
In 1850, a massive storm hit Orkney, causing 200 deaths. The storm stripped landscapes, tore trees out by their roots, demolished buildings, and made a grassy knoll fly off an irregular peninsula. Beneath that knoll lay Skara Brae, a settlement of seven neolithic houses. As you can see, they were very near perfectly preserved.
Although a local landowner started having a dig around, only four of the seven houses were uncovered, and the site remained undisturbed until 1913. Unfortunately, archaeology at this point in time was done as a hobby, and carelessly, with little to no regulations. As a result, the site was plundered of a vast amount of fantastically important historical artefacts over the course of a single weekend by an excavation party; there’s no telling what was lost.
More than 50 people lived in Skara Brae five thousand years ago. They made pottery and built their houses into pre-existing household waste which acted as an early form of insulation against the harsh Scottish climate. They had furniture made out of stone and had doors to their houses. They raised sheep and cows and made clay pots. An ancient Hebridean custom until recent times was that the male of the house had a larger bed, something reflected in the stone beds still viewable in Skara Brae.
Recent excavations have uncovered proof of one of the earliest forms of flea.
The settlement also had a fairly sophisticated drainage system.
Despite the level of care and sophistication present, Skara Brae was abandoned after 600 years of habitation. Although archaeologists disagree as to whether this was a quick event or not, the artefacts that were left behind indicate it could have been a sudden departure.
Over time, sand blew in to the hearths they’d cooked in and over the beds the inhabitants had slept in, filled up the dressers and the drains, grass grew on top of the sand, and Skara Brae slept undisturbed until hurricane winds revealed its existence some five thousand years later.