Holy Cross Abbey was an important Augustinian monastery located in Skåne's old capital, Dalby. It’s history began as a Viking Age royal manor. The buildings along with a granite chapel were donated for the establishment of a Benedictine monastery during the reign of King Sweyn II of Denmark, who gifted the old manor on which the abbey was to be built and two and a half other rented properties to fund its construction. The old manor buildings were converted into the ranges of the monastery. In 1066 Bishop Henrik of Lund died and Bishop Egino of Dalby Diocese took his place. Plans had been made to build a cathedral complex at Dalby, but the pope instead combined the dioceses of Dalby and Lund. In addition, Bishop Egino became the first Archbishop of Lund, after Pope Alexander II decided that Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia should from that time forward be an independent archdiocese of the Catholic Church. King Sweyn II's son, King Harald III of Denmark, was buried in the church at Dalby in 1080, indicating its important status at the end of the Viking Era.
A new expanded church was built of granite in the Romanesque style as a basilica dedicated to St Peter and given over to Augustinian canons. The building was further extended in the early 13th century with the addition of double towers, an extended west facade and two smaller towers flanked the new apse added onto the choir. In the 14th century the abbey had become wealthy enough to rebuild itself, so the original Viking Age buildings were demolished and new larger brick buildings took their place. The church was nearly as large as Lund Cathedral when it was complete and was arranged in the typical plan for monasteries of the day. Three ranges were built adjacent to the church forming a four-sided enclosure to separate the canons from the world. At its height, Dalby owned 450 farms and other properties throughout Skåne.
The abbey was sacked by the Swedish King Charles Knutsson in 1450 and never fully recovered its status. As a result the buildings were maintained, but not extended. In the 1530s Denmark fought over the question of religion. Lutherans urged Danes to abandon their Catholic beliefs, customs, and institutions in favor of those of the Lutheran movement. Dalby lost its support and rapidly declined. In 1536 Denmark became a Lutheran kingdom. All religious houses and their properties reverted to the crown. Dalby was secularized and given to the nobleman, Anders Bille and then other owners.
Dalby suffered during the wars between Sweden and Denmark. It became the property of the Swedish Crown in 1678 when Skåne became part of Sweden and in 1686 the eastern half of the church and towers were demolished. The buildings became so dilapidated by the 1740s that, while some parts were restored, other were demolished. In 1755 the entire eastern end of the church collapsed, destroying the famous marble altar. The partially ruined church was restored and a late Gothic brick tower added in 1758. The remaining range called "Boningshus" was repaired. It remains Sweden's oldest inhabited dwelling. In 1809 Dalby reverted to the Swedish Crown and it was restored again and modernized into the complex that can be seen today. Several additional buildings were constructed in the same style as the surviving buildings to replicate the feel of the ancient abbey.
The church is the oldest existing church building in Sweden, and the sandstone baptismal font in Dalby Church is believed to be one of the oldest in Scandinavia still in use.References:
The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.