A draft management plan for the protection of the Stone Age site chronicles coastal erosion as “a threat to the long-term survival” of the subterranean village.
The report, compiled by Unesco, Historic Scotland, RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Orkney Islands Council, said the site is at “significant risk from a variety of climate-related factors”, such as, “increases in storminess and sea level rise and consequent increases in coast erosion; torrential rain and flooding; changes to wetting and drying cycles; and changes to flora and fauna.”
Skara Brae settlement is estimated to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old and is the main attraction of Heart of Neolithic Orkney and was made a World Heritage site by Unesco in December 1999.
In addition to the village, the historical site includes Maeshowe, the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and other nearby sites. Unesco said, the monuments “proclaim the triumphs of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places” and “stand as a visible symbol of the achievements of early peoples away from the traditional centers of civilization”. This is certainly true because the weather can be wild in the north of Scotland and the islands during the winter months.
For the past 100 years, a specially erected sea wall has been the main barrier against serious storm damage and erosion to the village. Unfortunately, has been undermined by waves over the years and is in need of major repairs, and archaeologists now fear that rising sea levels may prove too much for it.
Skara Brae was discovered in the 19th century because of a cycle of severe weather. In the winter of 1850 a storm-battered Orkney and a combination of gale-force winds and extremely high tides stripped the grass from a large mound, then known as “Skerrabra” and revealed the outline of a number of stone buildings.
“According to the latest figures, 46 per cent of people who visit Orkney each year go to Skara Brae. The number of cruise ships stopping there is increasing each year, making the site integral to the island economy.”
Since it has lasted for thousands of years, I hope we can assume that something will be done to prevent the loss of the amazing Stone Age village.