Dating prehistoric remains
In 1868, after the remains of four ancient houses had been unearthed, work at Skerrabra was abandoned.The settlement remained undisturbed until 1925, when another storm damaged some of the previously excavated structures.However, we can get relatively close, with scientists often confident that a rock layer is within a specific range of hundreds of thousands of years.The most famous fossil site in California is the La Brea Tar Pits.Because of the protection offered by the sand that covered the settlement for 4,000 years, the buildings, and their contents, are incredibly well-preserved.Not only are the walls of the structures still standing, and alleyways roofed with their original stone slabs, but the interior fittings of each house give an unparalleled glimpse of life as it was in Neolithic Orkney.A sea-wall was built to preserve these remains, but during the construction work, yet more ancient buildings were discovered."I hear, says the writer in The Bulletin, that the excavations at Skerrabrae in Orkney, which attracted so much attention last year, are to be resumed at an early date. Gordon Childe will again co-operate with the representatives of the Office of Works.
This revealed the outline of a number of stone buildings - something that intrigued the local laird, William Watt, of Skaill, who embarked on an excavation of the site.Writing in 1928, Orcadian scholar Hugh Marwick declared: "An elderly Sandwick man, who has lived in the neighbourhood all his days, informs me that he had always hear it referred to as "Styerrabrae", i.e.Skerrabrae, with the local palatalising of 'sk' before a front vowel." At one time it was thought that a fresh water lagoon lay between the village and the Neolithic coastline.The village remains under constant threat by coastal erosion and the onslaught of the sand and sea.In addition, the increasing number of visitors to the site annually are causing problems.