Scotland is full of vivid, complex history, as is the case for other European compatriots. And no, it’s not all the violent headlines that Braveheart sees — though there is a great deal of war in the country’s rearview mirror.
Nonetheless, not so long ago, a farmer discovered something amazing about ancient Scotland buried in the sand dunes of one of the northernmost islands of the country The kicker? He found this amazing discovery behind something unbelievably ordinary…
Around 1850 a Scottish farmer passed through the sand dunes of the western shore of the island of Orkney. There he pushed a rock aside and discovered something that had been hidden for thousands of years.
At first, he saw what looked like a simple hole, but when he peered inside, he couldn’t believe his eyes: it was a passageway that appeared to be a part of an entire labyrinth of rooms and corridors. An entire ancient city was hidden behind an ordinary slab of stone that whole time!
The settlement, it turned out, was the remains of Skara Brae, a neolithic city. Researchers believed that the ancient settlement might’ve been over 5,000 years old, making it more ancient than even the Egyptian pyramids.
Luckily, because the city had been covered by the sand dunes, it remained preserved for centuries until the farmer found it, untouched by other humans and hidden from the wear and tear of the passage of time.
Researchers believed that this was one of the oldest permanent settlements in Great Britain.
Each house had been sunk into middens, mounds of waste used to stabilize the structure and insulate those insides from Scotland’s brutal climate.
Though only eight houses now remain, it is believed the settlement was once much larger.
Researchers estimated this ancient lost city could have been home to between 50 and 100 people.
All of the houses were connected using a tunnel system, but those tunnels could be closed off and separated with large, sliding stone doors.
Early citizens would then be able to travel throughout the city, but close off their homes for privacy when they needed to.
Each hut contained multiple bedding areas; in most of the huts, researchers discovered, one of the bedding areas was typically larger than the others. These rooms were presumably reserved for the heads of the house—kind of like ancient master bedrooms.
The houses also contained a waterproof storage bin. Researchers believed this could’ve been an indication that these early people stored fresh fish in the huts. If that was the case, fish was likely their main source of food.
There are still questions to be answered about this hidden city and its people. Nevertheless, there is so much we can learn from ancient cities like this.
For many years, archaeologists thought that every important Egyptian discovery was already found. But that all changed recently.