October 13, 2013

0838 UNITED KINGDOM (Scotland) - Heart of Neolithic Orkney (UNESCO WHS)

0838 Skara Brae

Heart of Neolithic Orkney refers to a group of Neolithic monuments found on the Mainland, one of the islands of Orkney, consisting of a large chambered tomb (Maeshowe), two ceremonial stone circles (the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar) and a settlement (Skara Brae), together with a number of unexcavated burial, ceremonial and settlement sites. It is an exceptional testimony to an important indigenous cultural tradition which flourished over 500-1,000 years but disappeared by about 2000 BC.

The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, located on the west coast of Mainland on the southern edge of the Bay of Skaill, was covered by an immense sand dune until 1850, when it was swept away by a violent storm. When it was built 5,000 years ago, it was further from the sea than it's now, as the sea level was much higher then. The settlement was abandoned some 600 years after it was built, and most of the houses were emptied of their contents.

The house styles vary according to the different periods of occupation, but the basic components of the interior remain the same: beds to either side and built into the walls, central hearth and dresser, also in stone, in the back. The buildings visible today are dated between 2900 and 2600 BC. On average, the houses measure 40 m2 in size with a large square room containing a hearth which would have been used for heating and cooking. Given the number of homes, it seems likely that no more than fifty people lived in Skara Brae at any given time.

The dwellings contain a number of stone-built pieces of furniture, including cupboards, dressers, seats, and storage boxes. A sophisticated drainage system was even incorporated into the village's design, one that included a primitive form of toilet in each dwelling. A number of enigmatic Carved Stone Balls have been found at the site, some of them having spiral ornamentation, considered by some historians a writing system and named "runic writings".

About the stamps
The first two stamps are part of the Machin definitive & Country stamps issued on March 29, 2011, about which I wrote here. The third stamp belong to a series dedicated to the English novelist Jane Austen, about which I wrote here.

Heart of Neolithic Orkney - Wikipedia
Heart of Neolithic Orkney - UNESCO official website
Skara Brae - Wikipedia
Orkneyjar, the heritage of the Orkney Islands - orkneyjar.com

Sender: Iain Stewart (direct swap)
Sent from Aberdeen (Scotland / United Kingdom), in 03.04.2013
Photo: Colin Baxter  

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