Orkneyjar – the barnhouse neolithic settlement
the architectural differences, the Barnhouse Settlement visitor will still be able to
pick out the similarities between the two ancient settlements – both have the
But two of the Barnhouse buildings are very different.
These structures – House Two and Structure Eight – are larger and more elaborate than the other buildings at Barnhouse
the site plan to the right, prompted the theory that the structures were built
to house someone of importance within a tribal hierarchy.
o’ Stenness and within the largest structure is a central hearth,
created to house certain individuals who were instrumental in the construction
of the stone ring? This might explain why the buildings were demolished after
use – when the project was completed the artisans moved on.
originally surfaced a number of years before Barnhouse was discovered, when it
was suggested that Skara Brae was the home of “priests” who officiated at tribal
ceremonies in and around the Stenness rings. At the time, however, the idea was
abandoned, only to be resurrected after the Barnhouse settlement was found.
The design of House Two seems to fit with this idea as
there are structural similarities between it and Orkney’s chambered
cairns. Perhaps this building was not a mere dwelling but was actually some
form of meeting hall, connected with the ceremonies at the nearby stone rings.
Or were the tribal wise-men cloistered in this sacred compound, close to their
the design of the Barnhouse settlement and its location in the ceremonial
A clear connection between Barnhouse and the Standing Stones o’ Stenness is the large stone hearth found in the centre of the stone circle. This hearth was constructed from four large stone slabs, and, according to Colin Richards, was transplanted Barnhouse to the interior of the ring.
The mystery of House Two