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House Eight

One of the surviving buildings in Skara Brae is markedly different from the rest. 

Now known as House Eight, this building stood apart from the midden-encased settlement, by an open paved area, now referred to as the “market place”, to the west of the village. 

Picture Sigurd TowrieThe structure is egg-shaped with a porch at the entrance. It had no sunken floor-tanks, nor beds. Where the beds would have been, in a “normal” house, were alcoves, while a partitioned-off recess replaced the ubiquitous dresser.  House Eight was also extensively decorated, with carved patterns on the walls.

In the 1920s, the excavators found the structure’s floor to be littered with fragments of chert and debris from the manufacture of tools. This, and the apparent increase in storage space, led to the interpretation that the building was a workshop, used to manufacture stone tools. 

However, it remains just as likely that the house had a different role – or a number of different roles. A communal meeting house, perhaps, deliberately separate from the rest of the houses. 

In addition, the structure has some similarities to later Bronze Age houses found in Shetland, prompting the theory that it may simply have been a later addition to the site.