Skjoldenæsholm Castle was originally located 1.5 km to the south of the current house. Skjoldenæs is first recorded in the 1340s when it was owned by the crown and referred to as a 'castle of considerable size'. King Christopher II mortaged the estate to John III, Count of Holstein-Plön. King Valdemar IV can with certainty be linked to the locale, in either 1346 or 1348, when he besieged the castle.
The medieval castle was demolished in 1567 but a castle bank surrounded by moats can still be seen at the site today. The estate was crown land for an extended period of time, held in fee by various members of the Danish nobility until 1662 when it was ceded to the King's rentemester Henrik Müller. Over the next few years, between 1663 and 1666, Müller completed a new manor house, half-timbered and in one storey, at the site of the current main building.
After Müller's death in 1682, the estate was reacquired by the king, Christian V, who the following year gave it to his half-brother Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve, who also owned the Gyldenløve Mansion in Copenhagen as well as several other estates in Denmark and in Norway. After his death, Skjoldenæsjolm remained in his family for almost a century. Count Ferdinand Anton Danneskiold-Laurvig, Ulrik Frederik Gyldenløve's son, owned the property from 1720 until his death in 1754. Anna Joachimine Danneskiold-Laurvig, the widow after his son, replaced the old main wing with the one seen today in 1766.
Anna Joachimine Danneskiold-Laurvig was the last member of the family to own Skjoldenæsholm, selling the property in 1794, shortly before her death the following year. The buyer was Anna Marie Bruun de Neergaard (née Møller) and Skjoldenæsholm has remained in the Bruun de Neergaard's ownership. The main building was in 1971 converted into a conference centre. Today estate covers 1,272 hectares of land, including Skjoldenæsholm Tramway Museum which was founded in 1978 and a golf course. The rest consists mainly of forest.
The sober Neoclassical main wing from 1766 stands in washed, yellow brick. The architect is not known but may have been Philip de Lange. Originally, the red hip roof also covered the three-bay median risalits, found on both sides of the main wing, which received their triangular pediment in connection with a major renovation in 1703. The renovation also added a new east wing and gave the old half-timbered west wing a new facade in masonry towards the courtyard, which matched it. The interior displays several fine examples of 18th-century period decorations.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.