Sverresborg was built by king Sverre Sigurdsson (ca. 1150-1202) in the mid 1180s, 250 meters northeast of Bergenhus fortress. King Sverre Sigurdsson also had a Sverresborg built in Trondheim. It is thought that the fortress had an outer wall of stone and inner buildings of wood. A saga mentions that 600 men and 40 noble women lived in the fortress ca. 1207.Sverresborg was the site of several battles during the Civil war era in Norway. The castle fell to the baglers and was destroyed, but was rebuilt by Håkon Jarl. The baglers destroyed it a second time and it has been rebuilt several times.The site was reinforced by King Håkon Håkonsson after the great fire of 1248. The medieval fort remained until mid-16th century. Directly underneath Sverresborg lies the residence of the master of the ramparts, the oldest of which go back to the 18th century. The master of the ramparts was in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of the fortifications and buildings. Much of the present day fortifications are from the 17th century. In August 1665, the fortress participated in the Battle of Vågen. The last known expansions took place during the Napoleonic wars.
In the 1830s a park was laid out in the area and in 1911 a petty officers school was established for Bergen Brigade. During World War II the German occupants established two anti aircraft batteries in the fortress. After the war, Sverresborg used as the execution site in connection with treason settlement. Seven German and one Norwegian war criminals were executed in Sverresborg in 1946.
The fortress has not fulfilled an operative capacity since World War II, but is still used by the military of Norway for office facilities. The facilities include a garage and an outbuilding of more recent date. The area is today under the command of the commandant of Bergenhus and is a military area, but open to the public.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.