Skara Brae

[skar-uh brey]
or Skerrabra

Late Neolithic village on the shore of the Bay of Skaill in Scotland's Orkney Islands. Skara Brae was built circa 3200–2200 BC. Covered by a sand dune, it is one of the most perfectly preserved ancient villages of Europe. Its excavation, begun in the 1860s, revealed huts of undressed, mortarless stone slabs containing stone furniture. They were linked by paved alleys; some had been covered by banking them with mixed sand, peat ash, and refuse, becoming stone-roofed tunnels. A sewer drained the whole. Inhabitants lived on the flesh and milk of their cattle and on shellfish; they probably wore skins. For tools they used local stone, beach pebbles, and animal bones. They wore pendants and coloured beads of sheep marrow, cows' teeth, killer-whale teeth, and boars' tusks. Lozenges and similar rectilinear patterns were scratched on hut walls and along alleys. Pottery vessels show incised and relief designs, including the only example of a true spiral known from prehistoric Britain.

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"Brae" is also the Lowland Scots language word for hill.

Brae is a settlement on the mainland of the Shetland Islands in Scotland. It is located at the northeast end of Busta Voe, on the narrow isthmus that separates the mainland from Northmavine. Traditionally a fishing village, with the construction of the nearby Sullom Voe Oil Terminal in the 1970s Brae grew rapidly, merging with the nearby village of Northbrae. The village also stages its own Up Helly Aa.

The village is also responsible for supplying the Islands' successful football team with eight players.

The A970 which connects Lerwick to Northmavine forms the main street of Brae. Brae's police and fire stations, schools, and NHS clinic service much of the northern part of the mainland.


Brae is the Lowland Scots word for hill. The word 'Brae' in Shetland dialect has a different meaning; it may come from the Old Norse word breiðr meaning broad. The village may take its name from the broad isthmus between Sullom Voe and Busta Voe as opposed to the narrower one a little further north at Mavis Grind. Alternatively the name may mean "a slope to the sea".


There is a traditional folk song called "The Rocks of Brae".


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