Billnäs ironworks was founded in 1641 by Carl Billsten. It faced many difficulties during 17th and 18th century. Local peasants destroyed the ironworks already in 1659 because of too heavy taxation. During the Great Wrath Russians occupied and destroyed it again in the 18th century.
Billnäs Ironworks moved to Hisinger family's possession in 1723. Bar hammer workshops with forges and waterwheels, and coal rooms were built to both sides of the rapids in Billnäs Ironworks. Johan Hisinger was especially active in building and developing the Ironworks’ operations. Billnäs manufactured many kind of forge products until 1920, when it was incorporated into Fiskars Corporation (the another ironworks site nearby).
An industrial business ended in Billnäs in the end of the 20th century. Today it’s moved to the use of service industry. Various public events, concerts and exhibitions among others, are organized in the Billnäs Ironworks. In the long run, hotel- and restaurant operations are planned to the area as well as a full renovation of the valuable real estates. The ironworks area is today a well-preserved national heritage. The most valuable building is the great forge from the 17th century.
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).