Clausholm Castle is one of Denmark's finest Baroque buildings. The castle's origins appear to go back to the 12th century but it is first mentioned in the 14th century when its owner, Lage Ovesen, was one of the leaders of the Jute uprising against Valdemar Atterdag. At the time, Clausholm was a four-winged building surrounded by a moat. But when the first Danish primeminister, Grand Chancellor Conrad von Reventlow, acquired the property in the 1690s, it was in such a sorry state that he pulled it down and had today's two-storeyed, three-winged building constructed in its place. It was designed by Danish architect Ernst Brandenburger with the assistance of the Swede Nicodemus Tessin the Younger.
The castle was designed so that the Grand Chancellor could live on the ground floor while the first floor, with higher and more decorative ceilings, was intended for royal visitors. Both the castle and the park are among Denmark's earliest and finest from the Baroque period. It was thanks to Reventlow's daughter, Anna Sophie Reventlow, that the castle gained fame when she was abducted by an amorous king, Frederick IV. Anna Sophie became his queen in 1721 but when he died in 1730, she returned to Clausholm with her court.
In the castle's chapel, decorated by Anna Sophie, is one of Denmark's oldest organs built around 1700 by the Botzen brothers from Copenhagen.
As there was no running water or electricity at the castle, for many years it was only inhabited during the summer. But in 1964, the new owners, Henrik and Ruth Berner, modernised the facilities with the result that the castle came back to life. Restoration work continued for a considerable period, great care being taken to protect the historical building which had remained practically untouched since the 1730s. The efforts were rewarded in 1994 when Queen Margrethe presented the castle with theEuropa Nostra Prize for outstanding heritage work.
The large Baroque park with its fountains and avenues was designed in the 18th century. In 2009, with the support of the Realdania Foundation, the park was thoroughly renovated.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.