Halsted Church dates from the second half of the 12th century, the church has a Romanesque chancel and nave, a large burial chapel from 1636 and a tower from 1877. The church was closely associated with Halsted Priory, which has not survived.
The granite church is first mentioned in 1177. It is therefore older than Halsted Kloster, the Benedictine priory with which it was associated from the 13th century until 1536. The church was dedicated to St Samson of Constantinople. In 1177, the Crown's clerical appointment rights were transferred by King Valdemar to Ringsted Abbey, which continued to have responsibility over Halsted Priory. At the time of the Reformation, ownership returned to the Crown, which retained it until 1719 when it was transferred to the Juellinge barony, created in honor of Jens Juel, and it was subsequently owned by members of the Juel-Vind family. After the barony was dissolved in 1921, the church came under ownership of the adjoining main building, named Halsted Kloster. In 1987, Mogens-Krag-Juel-Vind-Frijs returned ownership to the church itself.
The church was originally a Romanesque building with a nave, chancel, apse and possibly a tower. Remains of the chancel and nave survive in the masonry of today's structure. When it became the priory church at the end of the 13th century, the chancel was extended to the east, its three-sided gable replacing the former apse. The church formed the northern wing of a four-winged priory of which nothing remains today. In 1510, the Lübeckers burnt down the abbey, probably also destroying the church's Romanesque tower. During the 16th century the church was extended towards the west. A low tower was built at the west end and was rebuilt in the 1870s. In 1636, Borkvard Rud obtained rights to build the north chapel as a burial chapel for the owners of nearly Sæbyholm. The church was fully restored from 1868 to 1877.
Vaults were introduced at the beginning of the 16th century, with three cross-vaults in the nave, two star-shaped vaults in the chancel and a five-sectioned vault at the end of the chancel. The late 15th-century altarpiece is a Gothic triptych with a scene of the crucifixion in the centre and saints and apostles on the two wings. The auricular chancel screen from 1671 with the 11 apostles and Christ's baptism was probably crafted by Henrik Werner. A Baroque altarpiece which crowned the altar from 1750 to 1877, when it was replaced by the 15th-century work, can now be seen on the north wall of the chancel. The auricular pulpit (1636), displaying representations of Faith, Hope and Charity as well as the arms of Prince Christian and Princess Magdalene Sibylle, is the work of Jørgen Ringnis. The font from c. 1750 is probably from the same workshop as the Baroque altarpiece.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.