The Collegiate church of San Pedro de Cervatos was built around 1129. The main entrance of the church is framed by a series of archivolts. The tympanum is profusely carved with vegetal motifs that are reminiscent of Al-Andalus art. The tympanum is supported by two superposed lintels. The one above is decorated with six lions while the one below with a vegetable motif. The archivolts are plain and stand on capitals decorated with animals and birds.
The doorway is protected by a cornice sustained by corbels carved with figures of dancers, monkeys and other fantastic creatures. Between the brackets, the metopes have also been sculpted with images of animals, birds and strange characters.
On the right hand side of the doorway an inscription in Latin states that the church was built around the year 1129. A second inscription, also in Latin, explains that it was consecrated to Saint Peter in the year 1199 by bishop Marin, while he was abbot Marin.
The exterior of the apse shows a great variety of sculptural motifs both in the windows as well as in the brackets under the cornice. Many of these sculptures depict explicit sexual images, which was not unusual in Romanesque Art.
The interior consists of a single nave covered with gothic vaults. Only the head of the church retains the original Romanesque elements. The interior of the apse is decorated with an arcade of round arches that stand on sculpted capitals, the whole inspired by the art of Cluny. The capitals are decorated with either vegetable designs or figurative motifs such as fantastic animals and birds.
The bell toward was built at a later stage than the church, probably towards the end of the 12th century, around the time it was consecrated by bishop Marin.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.