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It's a shore thing

6 October 2006

In 1850, a great storm hit Orkney with winds causing extremely high tides that stripped the grass from a large mound uncovering the Neolithic settlement we now know as Skara Brae. A storm may have helped back then, but on Saturday 14 October, Historic Scotland rangers are hoping for exactly the opposite kind of weather as they invite visitors to the beautiful shores of Skaill Bay for a morning of artistic fun creating stone age sandcastles, circles and other designs on the beach as part of the national Big Draw Weekend.

Sandra Miller, Historic Scotland Ranger said:

'Skara Brae and the surrounding breathtaking sites in Orkney are so inspiring, we often find people try and recreate smaller replicas on the beach at Skaill. Perhaps this helps our visitors to understand how our Prehistoric ancestors built such remarkable structures. With this in mind, when trying to think up creative possibilities to tie in with the Big Draw weekend, we thought using the sand and the stones on Skaill Bay would be a wonderful idea.

It will be a fun morning of activity for the whole family, building sand castles, structures and any other weird and wonderful creations on the shore.  I think the best thing will be to see the beach covered in mini pieces of art at the end of the morning, a true tribute to the inspirational landscape of Orkney.'

'It's a Shore Thing' is on Saturday 14 October from 10.00am – 12noon. Please meet at Skaill Bay car park. The event does not include admission to the site. Due to unpredictable weather, it is advisable to contact the ranger service on the morning of the event to make sure it is proceeding as planned. Please call 01856 841732

Notes for Editors
  • Skara Brae is 19miles northwest of Kirkwall on the B9056. Adults £5.50, Concessions £4.50 and Children are free for the month of October at all Historic Scotland properties including Skara Brae. Please note, Skaill House is closed for winter.
  • The Big Draw weekend is designed to encourage more people to get involved with art. To find out more visit Other Historic Scotland sites staging events open to the public as part of The Big Draw are Stirling Castle, Fort George and Holyrood Park.
  • When a wild storm on Orkney in 1850 exposed the ruins of ancient dwellings, Skara Brae, the best preserved prehistoric village in northern Europe, was discovered.
  • The excavated farming settlement dates back 5000 years. Within the stone walls of the dwellings – separated by passages – are stone beds, dressers, seats and boxes for provisions, recesses for personal possessions, and a hearth where dried heather, bracken or seaweed was burned.
  • A replica house has been created next to the site and many original artefacts found at Skara Brae (part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site) are displayed in the visitor centre, which has a café.  There is also a shop featuring many products created in Orkney. The setting of Skara Brae is magnificent with the sound of seabirds and the sea.
  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae.
  • Historic Scotland stages an extensive annual programme of events at its Properties in Care. For details, visit or call 0131 668 8926 for an events brochure.

For further information

Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959