New Stone At Skara Brae Commemorates First Man In Space

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 09 April 2008
A photo of an entrance to a stone tunnel.

Maes Howe, the Neolithic Tomb among the ruins of the ancient dwellings of Skara Brae, the best preserved prehistoric village in northern Europe. © Historic Scotland

One of Scotland’s most celebrated Neolithic sites is to commemorate a defining moment in the 20th century space race by erecting a new carved stone along its carved stone walk way.

The pathway to the Skara Brae prehistoric village, in Orkney, is lined with carved stones that form a time trail of major events in human history. Historic Scotland created it as a way of emphasising the immensity of the changes that have taken place since the settlement was inhabited 5,000 years ago.

The latest stone to line the pathway will mark the anniversary of the moment, on April 12 1961, when cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth - in his spaceship Vostok 1.

"At Historic Scotland we are delighted to commemorate an event of such importance by including it in the Skara Brae timeline," said Doreen Grove, Historic Scotland head of access and understanding.

"It will help underline just how much has changed since the days of the Neolithic farmers who built Skara Brae."

The idea for the new stone was suggested by Alexander Korobko who visited in 2006 in search of his Orcadian roots. Mr Korobko and a series of Russian dignitaries, as well as cosmonaut Georgi Michailovich Grechko, are due to be present at the unveiling which will take place at 10.30am on Saturday April 12.

There is much interest in Russia in the new stone and two Russian film crews are expected to attend.

The unveiling also coincides this year’s Historic Scotland Free Weekend, which takes place on April 12 and 13 so visitors can see Skara Brae and the new stone without paying.

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