Our first day in Orkney, we made our way to Skara Brae, which we had travelled so far to see. We walked down the long path that leads to it, past markers of various events in time relative to the place—the first man on the moon, the Declaration of Independence, the fall of Rome, the great wall of China, the pyramids, and so on further back still—and spent a long time on the green and daisy-speckled mounds, staying through people and solitude, through sun and wind and frozen sleet, gazing down into the stone houses and out into the crashing waves that threaten to ruin the place after 5,000 years.
These old stone constructions are awesome. They tantalize the mind with images of cultures past – their lives, the daunting challenges they faced, their little joys and pleasures.
What struck me was the cultural continuities – needles, jewelry, furniture, and construction methods that have not changed significantly in over 5,000 years. I think the jewelry is particularly remarkable since it isn’t utilitarian and all cultures have it in some form. I also just love the shapes and materials of these structures.