Lepavina Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Presentation of Mary. According to an old local chronicle, the Lepavina monastery was founded around 1550, very soon after the emergence of the first Serbian settlements in this region. A monk from the Hilandar Monastery (on the Athos peninsula, Greece), Jefrem (Ephraim) Vukodabović, together with two monks from Bosnia, built a wooden church here. However in August 1557, Turks and the Islamized inhabitants of Stupčanica, Pakrac and Bijela, under the leadership of Zarep-Agha Ali, burnt down the church and the monastic buildings, four monks were killed and two taken to slavery.
In 1598 Hieromonk Gregory came to Lepavina and re-established the monastic community and rebuilt the edifices. In 1630 the Orthodox population of this region, due to their constant involvement in the fights against the Turks and their allies, received great privileges, which created the conditions for building activity on a larger scale.
The still-standing monastery church was built in the mid-18th century. World War II was especially difficult period. Immediately after the occupation, the brethren were arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Hieromonk Joakim (Joachim, Babić) was killed and the others were deported to Serbia. On 27 October 1943 the monastery was bombarded, monastic buildings were almost completely destroyed, while the church and the dormitory were heavily damaged. Nevertheless, in the part of the dormitory that escaped destruction, the part of the monastery library remained intact and was appropriated by the Greek Catholic clergy. After the war monastery was renovated with the help of the World Council of Churches.
One of the features of interest was the iconostasis from 1775, a work by one of the best representatives of the Serbian early Baroque, Jovan Četirević Grabovan, destroyed during World War II, with only three pictures remaining. Besides these, the monastery keeps the icons of St Simeon Nemanja, St Sava and the icon of the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Mother of God (i.e. the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary), all painted in Lepavina in 1647.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.