Orkney Islands, a group of more than 70 islands and islets—only about 20 of which are inhabited—in Scotland, lying about 20 miles (32 km) north of the Scottish mainland, across the strait known as the Pentland Firth. The Orkney Islands constitute a council area and belong to the historic county of Orkney.
The Orkney Islands were the Orcades of ancient classical literature. There remains much evidence of prehistoric occupation at various periods: underground houses, circles, standing stones, and earth houses. Skara Brae, an underground village on the west coast of the island of Mainland, is one of the most complete European relics of the late Neolithic Period; this location and several others on the island collectively were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
The Ring of Brodgar has never been excavated, so we don’t know its age for sure. In the absence of scientific dates, our best guess is that the main ring was constructed between 2600 and 2400 BC. The surrounding burial mounds and stone setting date from between 2500 and 1500 BC.
Skaill House is situated near the site of Skara Brae, and the lands were in use from Neolithic times. Various finds from the Bronze- and Iron Ages show continuing use. The name Skaill derives from the Old Norse word for “hall”. The names of all the surrounding farms are also derived from that language, and it is presumed that the lands have been permanently settled for over a thousand years. The dining room shows that they lived well and can be compared with the ancient kitchen in Skara Brae