In 1632 the future Patriarch Nikon attempted to escape from the Solovki to the Kozheozero Monastery in the south. As Nikon later recalled, a tempest broke out and his life was at peril. The monk began to pray to the holy cross and soon his boat was cast a shore on Kiy Island, where he erected a wooden cross to thank heaven.
Twenty years later, he went from Novgorod to the Solovki in order to bring the relics of Metropolitan Philip to Moscow. On his way he visited Kiy-Island and was pleased to see his wooden cross still standing. Upon becoming the Patriarch a year later, Nikon ordered a monastery to be established on the spot. The monastery was dedicated to the True Cross in 1656, whereupon 4537 peasants were declared its property.
Under Nikon's supervision, the Krestny Monastery became one of the richest in the region. The patriarch sent to the monks a huge cypress cross, commissioned by him in Palestine as 'an exact replica of the True Cross' and lavishly decorated with jewels. In 1660 he visited the monastery for the last time and dwelled there for a year. It is believed that the wayward patriarch personally selected the location of and designed most buildings to suit his taste. It was for his own use that a singular choir loft was built within the cathedral. A large portion of monastery buildings, including the cathedral, were constructed from local granite, to be in harmony with the rocky setting.
After Nikon's fall from grace, the monastery declined and its possessions were expropriated. The British Royal Navy sacked the island during the Crimean War on 9 July 1854. The following year it was damaged by fire but the Holy Synod decided in favour of restoring the complex. The Communists disbanded the abbey in 1922.
The granite heights of the island are crowned by the four-pillared Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Cross, dedicated in the presence of Nikon on 4 September 1661. Its monumental proportions are deliberately archaic but the overall effect is unusually spacious and light for traditional Russian architecture. There were formerly three domes but only the central one still subsists. Other buildings from Nikon's period include the chapel over the well (1661), the two-storey refectory church of the Virgin's Nativity (1689), the sadly disfigured All Saints Church (1661), and various outbuildings.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.