The Convent of Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is a former Russian Orthodox nunnery in Pskov. It is notable for the katholikon, one of Russia's oldest churches, dating from the first half of the 12th century. The church is located at the city center, on the left bank of the Velikaya River, in the Zavelichye quarter. It currently belongs to Krypetsky Monastery. It is the second oldest building in Pskov after the katholikon of the Mirozhsky Monastery and was designated an architectural monument of federal significance.
The construction date of the katholikon is traditionally estimated as the beginning of the 1140s. The studies of local Pskov architect, Sergey Mikhaylov, performed between 1970 and 1980, suggested the dates between 1124 and 1127. The Ivanovsky monastery was first mentioned in 1243. It was founded by Princess Efrosinya, the wife of Prince Yaroslav Vladimirovich of Pskov, who became a nun in the monastery. In 1243, she died and was buried in the cathedral. Later, a number of Pskov princesses also became nuns, and they were buried in the cathedral as well.
In 1615, during the Swedish siege of Pskov, the monastery was occupied by the Swedish army, and the katholikon was severely damaged. The monastery was closed in 1925. The building was subsequently used as a garage, a storage room, and a museum. In 1944, during World War II, there was a fire in the cathedral. In 1949-1959 it was restored. In 1991, the Cathedral of Nativity of Saint John the Baptist was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church, and in 2007, it was transferred to the Krypetsky Monastery.
Unlike many other churches in Pskov, the Ivanovsky katholikon is made of limestone, with some additions of plinthite. It has three apses and three domes, and its architecture is close to that of the katholikons in Antoniev Monastery and Yuriev Monastery in Novgorod. Originally, the interior was covered by frescoes, but almost all of the frescoes were lost. There is a belfry, built in the 16th century and adjoining the southwestern corner of the church.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.