The discovery of the long-lost settlement near Kirkwall was made after three years of fieldwork.
The discovery at Smerquoy shows ancient island farmers lived in settlements rather than in isolated farmsteads, as historians previously believed.
The unexpected find was made following three years of fieldwork at the long-lost settlement near Kirkwall.
Professor Colin Richards, of Manchester University, who specialises in neolithic Orkney, said: "What makes this an exciting discovery is that we appear to be excavating within a substantial early neolithic village where houses are situated in a row next to one another along the side of the hill.
"Each house is terraced into the hill slope in order to provide a level internal floor surface.
"These are large houses, with floor areas of around 50 square metres subdivided into inner and outer rooms or compartments. These were large, comfortable houses." [...] stv.tv/ / Link 2