Near the German border, in Westerwolde (Southeast Groningen), is the fortress Bourtange.

In 1580 William of Orange gave the order to build a fort on the sand ridge in the Bourtanger moor, on the border of modern Germany. On the order of William Louis of Nassau the fortress was raised in 1593.

Between 1593 and 1851 Bourtange was an important fortress. An agrarian village came into being when the fortress was dismantled in 1851. Only a few buildings still remembered the glory of yesteryear. In the nineteen sixties the county of Vlagtwedde took the initiative to reconstruct the fortress. The plan was implemented between 1967 and 1992. Ramparts were again raised, ditches were dug and soldiers’ barracks were built.

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Founded: c. 1593
Category: Castles and fortifications in Netherlands

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User Reviews

seulberg lala (3 years ago)
Nice fortification with a central square a few cafes, some shops etc on the inside. Unfortunately, the remarkable symmetry and beauty of the place can only be guessed at, when walking around the city or on the Dijks as there is no elevated observation point
Marc Blake (4 years ago)
Nice surprise. Highly recommend a visit
Dave Lole (4 years ago)
Superb reconstruction of the fort and village from mid-1700s and even better with the Christmas market. Great value and well worth the effort to visit.
Geht Euch Nichts An (4 years ago)
Impressive reconstruction of a star fort with an actual village inside. Very nice Christmas Market.
Aurora Signorazzi (4 years ago)
This tiny town is absolutely worth a visit. The drone pictures show its impressive architecture - hard to have that impression when you're on foot, however. The aren't restaurants or cafes open in the evening so try to visit somewhat early - even the nearby towns don't offer much
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Broch of Gurness

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.