8 Oldest Houses in the World

For much of early human history, people were nomadic hunter-gatherers who moved often in search of food. Groups of people often traveled together and established semi-permanent settlements as they moved around. While there are many artifacts from this time period, evidence of more permanent settlements date back to at least 10,000 years ago.

There is newer archaeological evidence shows that sophisticated communities may have formed much earlier.

We can never know for sure when our ancestors decided to first form long lasting communities, but remains of some of these early houses have been uncovered around the world.

8. Kirkjubøargarður (King’s Farm)

Year Built: c.11th century CE
Location:  Faroe Islands
Still Inhabited:  Yes

Kirkjubøargarður (King's Farm)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Kirkjubøargarður, also called King’s Farm, is believed to be the oldest wooden house that is still inhabited in the world. The farm is located in the Faroe Islands and to this day, it is the largest farm in the area. The house first served as the episcopal residence and seminary for the Diocese of the Faroe Islands.

Since there is no wood on the island, it is a very valuable material to the residents. According to legend, the wood used to build the farm house was driftwood from Norway.

Today, the farmhouse is a museum, but the descendants of the Patursson Family — who have occupied the house since 1550 — still care for and live in the house.

7. Roman Painted House

Year Built: c.200 CE
Location:  Dover, England
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Roman Painted Housephoto source: Flickr

The ruins of what is now called the Roman Painted House were first discovered in 1970. The house, or mansio (hotel for visiting officials), was built around 200 CE. It consists of five rooms as well as large painted murals, which is where the house got its name from. The murals are some of the best examples of Roman art in Britain and are the most extensive ever found in the area.

A unique feature of the house is the Dover Gems, which reveal the hypocaust (central heating) system in the floor. Since its discovery, the house has been preserved and serves as a major tourist attraction in Dover.

6. Jarlshof Houses

Year Built: c.800 BCE
Location:  Shetland, Scotland
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Jarlshof Housesphoto source: Geograph

The Jarshof archaeological site is one of the best-preserved and remarkable sites ever excavated in the British Isles. The large archaeological site features remains and from several different eras, including, late Neolithic houses, a Bronze Age village, a Viking longhouse, a Medieval farmstead, and Iron Age broch and wheelhouses.

Although the oldest remains are pottery from the Neolithic era, the oldest houses date back to the late Bronze Age, around 800 BCE. These early houses were a complex of beehive stone huts that were separated by internal buttresses.

Around 200 BCE, a newer settlement was built on top of the older huts. These newer houses were also circular and made of stone, but were more spacious.

5. Skara Brae

Year Built: c.3100 BCE
Location:  Mainland, Orkney, Scotland
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Skara Braephoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The village of Skara Brae consists of ten Neolithic era stone structures that are well-preserved. The village was buried by a giant mound, which unintentionally kept the site in excellent condition. The village was occupied for about 600 years and always consisted of about ten houses.

One of the best features of the site is the stone furniture still located inside the houses. Some of the furniture includes dressers, cupboards, chairs, and beds.

In addition to stone furniture, the people who lived at Skara Brae made tools, jewelry, gaming dice, grooved ware (a unique type of pottery), and other ornaments from bone, stones, and precious rocks.

4. Knap of Howar

Year Built: c. 3700 BCE
Location:  Island of Papa Westray, Orkney, Scotland
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Knap of Howarphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The Knap of Howar in Scotland is considered to be the oldest stone house still standing in Northern Europe. The remains of the house are fairly well-preserved and date back to between 3700 – 3500 BCE. The site, which is commonly called the farmstead consists of two structures that are connected by a passageway. The larger structure is older and was the main living space, while the second, smaller structure was likely used as a workshop/storage area.

At one point, the passageway between the structures was purposely blocked and the the workshop was abandoned. Archaeologists have found evidence that shows that the main house remained in use after the passage was blocked and was used for over 900 years total.

3. Khirokitia (Choirokoitia)

Year Built: c.7000 BCE
Location:  Republic of Cyprus
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Khirokitia (Choirokoitia)photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Khirokitia is a Neolithic era settlement located on the island of Cyprus, near Greece. The ruins are a series of circular houses that were first occupied sometime around 7000 BCE. These early houses were built from mud-brick and stone and featured flat roofs. Archaeologists have uncovered about 20 houses at the site, which were constructed directly on the ground.

Remains of hearths, cereal querns, other domestic and agricultural equipment, as well as human remains have been found in and near the houses. While there are no plans to reconstruct the original site, nearby archaeologists have replicated five houses as well as a section of the settlement’s defense wall in an effort to help visitors understand more about the ruins.

2. Howick House

Year Built: c.7800 BCE
Location:  Howick, Northumberland, England
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Howick House photo source: Archaeological Research Services

Until the recent discovery of the house at the Star Carr archaeological site, the Howick House was believed to be the oldest Mesolithic house in the United Kingdom. The hearths located inside of the hut were radio carbon dated to around 7800 BCE. The site is the oldest settlement in the Northumberland area. In addition to the hut, there is a cemetery consisting of five Bronze Age graves at the site.

According to archaeologists, the resources in the area surround the hut allowed its occupants (stone age hunter-gatherers) to live there year-round.

In 2005, a team of archaeologists decided to reconstruct the hut — in a nearby area close to the original site — for the BBC documentary series “Coast.”

1. Star Carr House

Year Built: c. 8500 BCE
Location:  Star Carr archaeological site near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Still Inhabited:  No – ruins

Star Carr Housephoto source: The York Press

The house found at the Star Carr archaeological site in 2010 is not only the oldest known dwelling in the United Kingdom, but it is most likely the oldest house in the world that has been discovered so far. A team of archaeologists from the universities of Manchester and York also uncovered a wooden platform, which they believe is the oldest example of carpentry in Europe.

According to archaeological research, the remains of the house have been carbon dated to about 8500 BCE. The people who lived here were hunter-gatherers who came to the what are now the British Isles while they were still connected to continental Europe.


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