Hesselagergård Manor is the oldest Renaissance building in Denmark. It was built by Johan Friis, one of the most powerful man in Denmark during the reigns of Christian III and Frederick II. It is first documented in the 13th century, when it is mentioned in Valdemar II's Liber Census Daniæ as Crown land. In 1419 it belonged to the Bild family. From 1538-50 it was rebuilt in Renaissance style by Johan Friis. Construction of the main building began in 1538, probably under the direction of Martin Bussert. It was a late-gothic stone house in two stories with a tower in the northeastern corner. In 1548 an extra storey and two more towers were added, probably by Jacob Binck. In 1550 the building was given its characteristic roof. The estate remained in the Friis family until 1682. From 1904 the estate has been owned by the Blixen-Finecke family.
The construction started as a late gothic defensive castle, built of large red brick on a granite plinth and surrounded by a moat, but by the end it had introduced many renaissance features. Especially noteworthy are the highly decorated hipped, round gables inspired by Venitean renaissance church architecture. They are among the earliest known examples of this kind in Northern Europe. Not until the following decades are they seen in townhouses of Northern France and Austrian castles, sich as Schwerin and Gadebusch (1580-83).
Also typical of the time are the blank arches below the projecting masonry and the watchman's passage at the top with machicolationfor missiles and boiling liquid (as, for example, on Johan Friis' manor house Borreby on Sjælland). Other notable features are the decorative tops to the towers and depressed round-arched windows.
Hesselagergård is famous for its frieze in the Deer Room. It depicts large deer, landscapes, towns and people and was probably executed by Jacob Brinck around 1550.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.