Talk:Skara Brae

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How did Skara Brae get it's name? Did the Scots give it to it? Or was there some writing there from the original inhabitants? The snare 22:22, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

  • This is speculative. The Orkneys were under Norwegian control for many centuries; the name maybe comes from the Norse word skåra, meaning a notch, cut, score or scratch. Or possibly from the the English verb scar, which is Middle English, alteration of escare, Late Latin eschara, Greek eskhara, hearth, scab caused by burning. Or, it could be a corruption of the Norse sker (English skerry, a rock in the sea); there's no rock that I know of close by though (although the sea has moved inland quite a bit over the last few millenia. The word brae in Scots is a hill or rise. Some research required I think. Alex 23:20, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

According to an uncited edit at Brae, "The word 'Brae' in Shetland dialect has a different meaning; it comes from the Old Norse word breiðr meaning broad.". Ben MacDuiTalk/Walk 12:02, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

PC games[edit]

Great page! However, I'd like to bring a small thing to your attention that could be added to "references". Skara Brae is also the name of the city in which the 80s PC video game, "The Bard's Tale", is set (although the world in the video game is obviously fictional). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:55, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

There have been numerous attempts to introduce this kind of material here - and thank-you for not doing so! What would actually be helpful would be a new Skara Brae (disambiguation) page that lists the different uses. Fictional works in whatever medium deserve mention here only if they actually utilise the real site - not if they simply borrow the name. Ben MacDuiTalk/Walk 09:24, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Since the video games (and other media) obviously got the name from this famous archeological site, how is it not relevant to mention them in the Contemporary Culture section? That's what the section is for! I, for one, would like to know how many different pieces of fiction have appropriated the name. I'd appreciate it if you could site a rule, and not simply make a declaration that looks quite rude and derogatory toward some cherished "contemporary culture". MaxWilder (talk) 01:25, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Hi MaxWilder - thank-you for raising this at the talk page rather than just ignoring the suggestion. The two pieces of guidance I can offer are first of all from WP:GOODISLE: "If appropriate add genuinely relevant info, but avoid trivia e.g. 'Barra' is the name of six-dimensional werewolf in the the novel 'X'. However, "The novel These Demented Lands by Alan Warner is partly set on the island." is fine." In other words, if the connection is simply that of a homonym, a borrowed word, or an assumed relationship, avoid it. If there is a genuine connection by all means refer to it. For example I'd be fine with a (properly cited) example that says :The video game 'X' contains a city named "Skara Brae" whose architecture and lifestyle resembles that of the original Neolithic village. This modern homage was inspired by a visit to Orkney by video game designer Barry Squareyes in March 2007 who said "..." etc". Otherwise Skara Brae (disambiguation) is the place for the entry. See also Wikipedia:Handling trivia and related pages. Best wishes, Ben MacDui 08:36, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
But then why include the Ultima reference? The Skara Brae in Ultima seems no more patterned after the real Skara Brae than the one in the Bard's Tale. Anyway, I don't think the pages you link to support your position as unambiguously as you seem to think they do—this isn't a case of mere coincidence of common name, like the "Barra" example; these fictional places clearly get their name from their city, and trying to use that guideline to argue against their mention seems like a big stretch. Also, there's mention of a city called Skara Brae in the documentation to yet another very popular 80s video game, Wizardry. It seems to me that the fact that three different 80s computer role-playing games all borrowed the name of Skara Brae for cities is interesting enough to be noteworthy, but it doesn't seem to fit on a disambiguation page (the mention of Skara Brae in Wizardry is too fleeting for that). In any case, though, though I think this matter does bear brief mention on the main page, if the consensus is against that then the reference to Ultima should probably also be deleted for consistency—it doesn't really make sense to include that one and not the others. (I don't mean this as a WP:OSE argument for adding the other information; while I am in favor of adding the Bard's Tale and Wizardry references, failing that I really do think it would be better to remove the Ultima reference than to keep it and not add the others.) Smeazel (talk) 17:05, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
I have removed the Ultima ref, which crept in when no-one was looking. If you can find references connecting this Skara Brae with the virtual ones, then there is a genuine discussion to be had. Otherwise there is really nothing to add. Ben MacDui 18:03, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the Bard's Tale games, particularly the most recent ones, take a lot of inspiration from the Scotch culture, including vocabulary (Kirk, for example; it's been a while since I played it), some of the music (more Irish than Scottish), locations, and some of the enemies. It's pretty clear that it's more than mere coincidence. The developers even mention that they based a lot of the atmosphere off the Orkney Islands (I mean, do you really think someone pulled a name like Skara Brae out of their #!$?) Unfortunately, I don't have a reference to that in soft copy, I'll dig up my copy of the PS2 game; it's in the liner notes (it's also the first place I'd heard of the Orkneys). I'm pretty sure a fairly large chunk of the casual traffic to this page comes from people who first heard the name from the games. Since the disambiguation page only has a one-line sentence for Bard's Tale and Ultima each, why not just combine those sentences and throw them in the with the rest of the "In Popular Culture" lines? I'll find the game insert and...well, see if I can find them online as well once I have a developer's name to search on. If not I'll get it scanned. So you can be sure I'm not pulling this out of [i]my[/i] #!$ :) Greg Weaver, —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Update! Not only are the Bard's Tale games inspired by the Orkney Islands, they're set it them! That would definitely account for Skara Brae, and, well, everything! -Greg
Well found - it is added now. Ben MacDui 14:46, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
It since appears to have been removed, and replaced with a hidden message saying not to add it unless it's more than a co-incidence and to see the talk page. From the talk page, I saw that a reference that it was more than a co-incidence had been found, so thought it would be uncontroversial to re-add it. You've reverted this re-addition; from your last comment above, you appeared to accept that this reference justified its inclusion before, so could you explain why you no longer consider this addition as valid? Thanks (talk) 21:30, 5 November 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't say the relevance was great, but you are right it was removed at some point in the last two years. I am not sure what elements of "fictionalised Orkney", if any, are really present in the game, but I have put it back. Ben MacDui 09:30, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

I am expanding the Bards Tale item to include Ultima, as they were both put in by the same guy (Roe R Adams III) who is active in SCA and his SCA persona "comes from" the real Skara Brae. I consider this to be a single entry in the list, with both details. See the bottom of p 12 of this link for the relationship(cited in addition). Gaijin42 (talk) 22:03, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

Could you point out the part of your (unformatted) citation where the actual relationship between the game and the real world Skara Brae is mentioned? Ben MacDui 08:08, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Paragraph "Vandalism"[edit]

Is this 2007 graffiti incident really noteworthy? The graffiti were successfully removed and I don't think there is any long-term significance. Seems to be a piece of news without encyclopedic relevance. Therefore I suggest removing the paragraph as well. Gestumblindi (talk) 19:39, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Agreed - and many thanks for the dab page. Ben MacDuiTalk/Walk 10:27, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Discovery and excavation[edit]

The "Orkneyjar" external link provides some details of the site's discovery in 1850 and excavation that are not contained in the main article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:06, 2 March 2010 (UTC)


I have just found that this is an American variant. As this article is about a British site, I suggest using the British spelling. Finavon (talk) 08:23, 12 September 2010 (UTC)


"Each of these houses has the larger bed on the right side of the doorway and the smaller on the left." Right and left when viewed from the inside of the dwelling or when entering the dwelling? (I'm mainly interested because Hungarian yurts used to have a similar gender assignment and the women's side was the right side (when entering the yurt). – Alensha talk 23:23, 11 February 2013 (UTC)


No remarks concerning wood availability for this culture. Were there trees at all in this area?Kortoso (talk) 03:23, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

From what I was told when I was there, there used to be plenty of trees on the Orkneys in this period. We were told it was during the viking era that the trees were cut down at a quicker pace than they could replenish themselves. With the strong wind the young trees can't establish themselves and so we're left with the pretty treeless Orkney landscape we have currently.
However Orkneyjar says the area was thickly forested during the Mesolithic and suggests it the decline of the trees was a longer process starting well before the vikings, from a mixture of climate and human causes.
So yes there would have been wood available for the people at Skara Brae.
:-I'll have a look through the guidebook I got and see if it can offer time-frames and information. --Rushton2010 (talk) 09:31, 4 September 2013 (UTC)


Is it known what the roofing of the village's houses were likely to have been made from? It's mentioned nowhere in the article and I think probably should be.--Gibson Flying V (talk) 04:11, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Update Required[edit]

See the most recent issue of the National Geographic on this and other sites in the Orkneys. (talk) 23:12, 8 August 2014 (UTC)