Caroline Arnold's Books

Home My Books Children's Projects School Visits / Teaching Awards About the Author
Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland's Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland's Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae

Five thousand years ago Stone Age farmers tilled the land in northern Scotland. Join visitors to the Orkney Islands and explore the remains of the Neolithic village of Skara Brae and see many of the ancient objects found during its excavation. No other place in Northern Europe provides such a complete picture of life in this period when people made tools of stone and bone and began to live in settled communities.

Read Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland's Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae. Find out how people lived in northern Europe 5000 years ago in the Neolithic, or New Stone Age.

Book notes

Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland's Prehistoric Village of Skara Brae will be my eleventh book published by Clarion and reflects my continuing fascination with archeology. Some of my own ancestors came originally from Scotland and what intrigues me about Skara Brae and the other neolithic ruins in the Orkney Islands is that they show how people like my ancestors may have actually lived. With this book I continue my collaboration with my husband, Art, who took the photographs for the book when we visited Scotland in celebration of our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Children's Projects

Be an archaeologist

1. We learn how people lived long ago by looking at what they threw away. Archeologists at Skara Brae studied the trash piles, or middens, surrounding the village to find out what kinds of food people ate and what kinds of tools and household objects they used.

Project: Empty your waste baskets at home and make a list of the contents. Exchange your list with another student and try to draw conclusions about the people who threw away those objects.

2. We learn how people lived long ago by finding out how they died and how they treated their dead.

Project: Visit a local graveyard--preferably one that goes back more than one hundred years. What do the inscriptions on the gravestones tell you about the people who are buried there? What can you conclude about the people and their families from the size and placement of the grave markers. What else does the cemetery tell you about the community?

3. In every community, both ancient and modern, the places where people live have to meet basic human needs. Houses provide warmth, shelter from the weather, protection from danger, places to store and cook food and places for people to meet.

Project: Compare your house or apartment to a house at Skara Brae. How are they the same? How are they different?

Booklist, April 15, 1997

"This handsome book introduces the ancient village of Skara Brae on Scotland's Orkney Islands. Inhabited from 3100 to 2500 B.C., Skara Brae lay buried by shifting sands until uncovered by a storm in 1850. Today the site includes the stone walls of several small, interconnected houses buttressed by mounds of midden (trash mixed with soil and plant matter) that are overgrown with grass. As Arnold describes the ruins and the neolithic culture they suggest, she carefully distinguishes between what is known and what is surmised about the people who lived at Skara Brae. Brightening nearly every page, full-color photographs show details of Skara Brae as well as its idyllic surroundings and other nearby neolithic sites such as a burial mound, a cooking trough, and two orkney monuments of giant standing stones. The photos' clear images, subtle colors, and pleasing compositions give the book its pervasive sense of beauty. A well-crafted presentation."

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1997.

"A fascinating look at 'one of Europe's oldest known and best preserved prehistoric villages,' inhabited from 3100 to 2500 B.C. in northern Scotland's Orkney Islands. Arnold relates how the city, predating the Egyptian pyramids, was buried by sand and rediscovered following a storm 150 years ago. This ancient settlement provides a slice of human history when people made tools with stone or bone and began to live in settled communities. Accompanied by clear, informative, full-color photos, Arnold's narrative deftly recounts the design of the stone houses, how they were built, the daily life of the farming inhabitants, how this prehistoric period of Orkney history ends, and why Skara Brae remains of lasting significance. Readers will be impressed by the details of the painstaking work of archeologists to uncover and preserve this ancient site. (maps, diagrams, glossary, index.)"