Around 3040 BC the Grooved Ware people built a
village at Barnhouse, just 150 metres north of the Stones of Stenness. In
1986 when Colin Richards excavated this area of smooth green fields he found
a series of structures which showed a long period of settlement. The site
was extremely rich in finds of Grooved Ware pottery, and was identical to
the fragments Ritchie had found at the Stones of Stenness. This suggested
the complex was contemporary to and linked with the nearby henge and standing
stones. The remains of about twelve buildings were investigated and some
had made use of imported stone. The floors of houses six and ten used Arran
pitchstone, brought from the Western Isles. It had been a sophisticated village,
like Skara Brae, the houses had been equipped with drainage and the same
sort of standard interior stone furnishing as Skara Brae. But the village
of Barnhouse was not a subterranean village, its houses had stood separately
on the surface. The centre of the village seems to have been dominated by
two houses which are different from all the other structures in that they
are rectangular not circular. Richards thought these structures may have
been temples and that they indicated the existence of a hierarchical social
order exercising a high degree of authority over other social groups.
Here are pictures of the main structures in the ancient
Grooved Ware village of Barnhouse.
The smaller of the two square houses.
The larger square house, or meeting hall, seen from
the entrance to the smaller square house.
One of simpler round houses of the lochside
A partially excavated round house.
The entrance to the inner chamber of the large square
meeting hall. There is the remains of a fire pit across the doorway to the
The outer courtyard of the large square meeting
Looking from the courtyard of the large square hall
towards the smaller square house.
Details of the fire pit in the entrance of the large
square meeting hall.
Looking towards Maes Howe from the entrance of the
smaller square house. The large square meeting hall is in the