The Neolithic houses of Barnhouse village do not survive as well as those of Skara Brae but they are remarkable for their proximity to the Stones of Stenness. Barnhouse was excavated by Colin Richards in the 1980s and he uncovered remarkable detail of the community. The settlement was occupied between 3200 BC and 2900 BC and those who lived here must have been familiar with the great standing stones close by.
The houses at Barnhouse follow the standard Neolithic pattern with a central hearth, dresser opposite the door and beds to either side. In addition to the domestic houses there are two very different buildings. House Two is a double-bayed structure with a cruciform interior apparently divided between two hearths. Structure Eight is a more complex structure entered through a narrow encircling passage set within an enclosing wall. It bears a strong resemblance to the Neolithic ‘temple’, structure 10 at Ness of Brodgar.
While elements of Barnhouse suggest it was a straightforward Neolithic village, other elements indicate that it may also have served a more complex role.
The Barnhouse Stone
A single standing stone may be seen in the field here. There is no evidence for a more complex setting, but the stone is a significant part of the Neolithic complex. At the midwinter solstice the setting sun shines directly over the top of the stone to enter the passage of Maeshowe about 600m to the north-east.