The Abbey of the Holy Cross in Rostock was founded in the 13th century by Cistercian nuns. It is the only completely preserved abbey in the city. The complex includes the former abbey church which is used today as the University Church (Universitätskirche). The remaining convent buildings house the Museum of Cultural History (Kulturhistorische Museum) for the city of Rostock.
The nunnery was founded by the Danish Queen Margaret in 1270. According to legend, she founded the nunnery in gratitude for a miraculous rescue at sea in the vicinity of Hundsburg castle at Schmarl. What is certain is that she made large donations to the nunnery. She died in 1282 and was buried in the minster church in Bad Doberan which belonged to the Cistercian Order. The nunnery gained extensive estates in Rostock and also in the whole of Mecklenburg as a result of donations, endowments and bequests. The nuns came mostly from wealthy families in Rostock. The nunnery was very popular and even had to place restrictions on entry in the 14th century. The abbey church was completed in 1360.
The Reformation was accepted into the abbey in 1562 after just thirty years of 'contemplation time' by the nuns in the convent. As a result of the Second Rostock Inheritance Agreement between the city of Rostock and the dukes of Mecklenburg in 1584 the nunnery was turned into a Lutheran damsels' convent (Frauenstift). The lives of its conventuals, however, hardly changed at all. The place still resembled a Roman Catholic monastic order. After the Thirty Years' War, however, there were only nine conventuals. In the 19th century, efforts were made to transfer the estate of the nunnery to the state. But it was not until 1920, when the Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin constitution was introduced, that the state appropriated all such parastatal entities, such as women's convents. As a result, Mecklenburg-Schwerin's Lutheran church was only allowed to continue legally as an organisation independent of the state. The effect of this was that the nunnery was expropriated by the state without any compensation to the church. On 17 August 1920, the abbey was dissolved, although the remaining conventuals were allowed the right to live there for life. The last abbess died in 1981. The abbey church was renovated both outside and, later, inside from 1997 to 2002. The convent buildings now house the Rostock Museum of Cultural History.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.