Esch-sur-Sûre Castle was founded around 927 AD, when Meginaud or Maingaud and his wife Hiletrude acquired the site of Esch-sur-Sûre. He built a Romanesque tower eight metres square as well as farm buildings. The castle was considerably enlarged in the Gothic style by the two last Counts of Esch during the 13th century.
With the introduction of gunpowder in the 15th century, additional defences were required. The entire village was reinforced with a solid wall stretching 450 metres around the village complete with two defensive towers. The round watchtower or Lochturm opposite the keep was also built in the 15th century as were the entrance gate and the castle stables. The castle started to deteriorate in the middle of the 16th century and was dismantled in 1685 by the troops of Louis XIV. The outer wall was however left intact as many of the houses used of it for their back walls. The castle fell into the hands of commoners. When Victor Hugo visited the village in 1871, several families were still living there. In 1902, the Egyptian Martin Riano d’Hutzt bought the ruins from the State for 1,000 francs. He charged the architect Charles Arendt with restoration work and the chapel was restored in 1906 but then funds appear to have run out.
Today only the ruins of the castle remain although the State acquired the site in 2005 and began restoration work the following year. The site is open to the public and is illuminated in the evenings.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.