Barnhouse Neolithic Settlement

Orkney, United Kingdom

The Neolithic Barnhouse was discovered in 1984 by Colin Richards. Excavations were conducted between 1986 and 1991, over time revealing the base courses of at least 15 houses. The houses have similarities to those of the early phase of the better-known settlement at 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. The settlement dates back to circa 3000 BC.

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 of the original buildings was House 2. It was double-sized, featuring a higher building standard than the other houses and unlike the others (rebuilt up to five times) seems to have remained in use throughout the inhabited period of the settlement. The houses were clustered around a central open area which was divided into areas for making pottery and the working of flint, bones and hides. Evidence suggests that Barnhouse was abandoned around 2600 BC.

After Barnhouse ceased to be occupied, another structure was added, partially on top of the earlier building plans. This building had a room about 7 m square with walls 3 m thick and an entrance facing towards the north west so that the midsummer sunset shines along the passageway, with similarities to some chambered cairns. The structure was surrounded by a clay platform. The entrance through this was aligned with Maeshowe. The structure is assumed to have served as a ceremonial site rather than as a dwelling. It is thought to be closely linked with the nearby Stones of Stenness. Some of the hearth slabs from the structure may have been moved to the Stones.

This site is accessible to the public via a footpath from the Standing Stones of Stenness.

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Address

B9055, Orkney, United Kingdom
See all sites in Orkney

Details

Founded: 3000 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in United Kingdom

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Katy vdB (2 years ago)
The remains of a Neolithic village, well worth visiting as a comparison with Skara Brae.
Deb Litman (2 years ago)
Definitely worth the walk out to explore this under visited site.
Ian H (2 years ago)
Stupendous. Only a short walk from the Standing Stones of Stenness. Well worth a visit.
Benediktas Kazlauskas (6 years ago)
Very good
cedric fairweather (6 years ago)
Just tucked away behind Stone Circle of Stennes but a must visit sight. Well looked after and in an area of such wonder.
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