Château de Noirmoutier is very well preserved and a fine example of 12th century medieval architecture. The first traces of the castle appeared in 830 with the construction of a castrum by the abbot Hilbold, from the monastery of Saint-Philbert. It served to defend the monks and the island's population from the Vikings. The castle was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century by the feudal power who was trying to stabilise the region, notably by preventing Norman pillaging. The island at that time was under the control of the barons of La Garnache. The keep was built by Pierre IV of La Garnache, then an enclosure equipped with towers was built around the lower courtyard. In the 16th century, the castle was held by the La Trémoille family, then viscounts of Thouars.
The castle has resisted numerous attacks, like the English in 1342 and 1360, and again in 1386 under the command of the Earl of Arundelthe Spanish in 1524 and 1588. In 1674 it was taken by the Dutch troops of Admiral Tromp.
Château de Noirmoutier was sold in 1720 to Louis IV Henri de Bourbon-Condé who resold it in 1767 to Louis XV. During the French Revolution, the castle served as a military prison. During the 19th century, the castle was used as a barracks. In 1871, during the Paris Commune, insurgents were imprisoned there. In 1960, a house was built within the castle grounds by the governor of the island and the castle. Today, the keep houses the Noirmoutier Museum.
The keep at the centre of the castle is solid and rectangular. Built of rubble, it has three floors with the lords' residence at the top. The keep has numerous murder holes and defensive turrets at the corners. The rectangular fortification consists of two towers, a single gate and two watch turrets in the four corners. At the beginning of the 18th century, the towers were reconstructed and the keep adapted for artillery.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.