The Barone Fortress in Šibenik is an early modern fortress constructed in 1646 on Vidakuša hill above the city. Together with the remaining three city fortresses, it is a part of the Šibenik fortification system. It played a significant role in city's defense from the Ottomans during the Cretan War.
Since at least the mid-16th century, the city rectors and envoys had been stressing the need for the construction of fortification objects on the hills north of the city, because the city walls and St. Michael's Fortress had not been built to endure any prolonged artillery attack. The pleas were constantly rejected by the Venetian senate due to lack of funds. In the spring of 1646, one year after the Cretan War broke out between the Venetians and the Ottomans, the Bosnian pasha began to amass a large army for the attack on Dalmatia. At the same time, a German nobleman in Venetian service, Baron Christoph Martin von Degenfeld, took over the defense of the city, and a Genoese military engineer, Father Antonio Leni, arrived in Šibenik and made sketches for the necessary improvement of the city's defense. When the people of Šibenik renewed their request for protection, the Venetians denied them the funds once again, but the citizens were not explicitly forbidden from building the fortification by themselves. Upon hearing that, they took the matter into their own hands – the construction of both Barone Fortress and the adjacent St. John's Fortress began on 1 August 1646, and both fortresses were successfully built in only 58 days.
The first Ottoman siege in October 1646 was fended off after just seven days. The fortresses were strengthened over the following winter and prepared for the next attack. On 17 August 1647, the Ottoman commander, Techieli-pasha, arrived in Šibenik with the largest invading army in Dalmatia since the Roman era – 25,000 soldiers and heavy artillery. After a ferocious one-month siege, the enemy withdrew with great losses in both manpower and equipment. Turkish invaders were forced to retreat to the interior, towards Drniš, and never managed to conquer Šibenik.
Originally, Barone Fortress looked somewhat different from what does today, as it was probably hurriedly built in the dry-stone technique. Thirteen years later, in 1659, the Venetian provveditore Antonio Bernardo initialized the construction work that transformed the fortress into an object measuring up to the standards of contemporary military architecture. Shaped as an irregular star, the fortress resisted enemy cannons thanks to the bastions reinforced with mounds. The northern part of the fortress (hornwork) has two demi-bastions connected by a curtain wall. That was the position of the defense artillery. The southern part was used for barracks and magazines. After the Ottoman threat had passed, the fortress was maintained poorly, and the original objects have decayed or been torn down with time. In the early 20th century, the City of Šibenik purchased and then renamed the fortress and its surrounding area.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.