Eldena Abbey, originally Hilda Abbey, is a former Cistercian monastery. Only ruins survive, which are well known as a frequent subject of Caspar David Friedrich's paintings.
In the 12th century the Baltic coast south of the island of Rügen belonged to the Rani principality of Rügen, which in its turn was subject to the Danes. The Danish Cistercian monastery, Esrum Abbey, was thus able to found a daughter house in the area, Dargun Abbey, at Dargun, west of Demmin, in 1172. When in 1198 this monastery was destroyed in fighting between Denmark and Brandenburg, Jaromar I, Prince of the Rani, whose wife was of the Danish royal house, offered to re-settle the monks at a new site at the mouth of the River Ryck, close to the boundary between the territory of the Princes of Rügen, and the County of Gützkow, since the early 1120s subordinate to the Duchy of Pomerania.
The offer of the site, which included profitable salt-pans, was accepted, and in 1199 Hilda Abbey was founded and confirmed by Pope Innocent III in 1204. The monastery became wealthy from the salt trade and was very influential in the Christianisation of Western Pomerania. It also brought about the foundation at the beginning of the 13th century of the town of Greifswald, which started out as the monastery's trading settlement opposite the salt-pans, near the point where the via regia, an important trade route, crossed the river. After the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227 the Danes withdrew from this part of their former territories, and despite some competition from the princes of Rügen, the Duke of Pomerania, Wartislaw III, was able in 1248/49 to pressurise the abbey into subinfeudating Greifswald to him. Wartislaw was later buried in Eldena Abbey, as were later members of the ducal family, the House of Pomerania.
Throughout the 13th century, Eldena Abbey organized the cultivation and settlement of its growing estates in the Ostsiedlung process, allocating and founding Wendish, Danish and German villages. In the growing town of Greifswald however, the Cistercians of Eldena lost much of their influence the foundation in the town in the mid-13th century of friaries of the Franciscans (Greyfriars) and the Dominicans (Blackfriars).
The east end of the abbey church was built in about 1200, while the conventual buildings date from the mid-13th and 14th centuries, all in Brick Gothic. The final stages of construction were the west front and the nave of the church, which were completed in the 15th century.
The abbey was dissolved in 1535, when the Reformation was introduced into Pomerania by Duke Philip I, who took over its estates. The buildings were severely damaged during the Thirty Years' War. In 1634 the site was given to the University of Greifswald. The buildings fell into dereliction during the Swedish occupation of Western Pomerania (1648–1815) and the bricks were quarried for the building of fortifications.
By the beginning of the 19th century, when the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich knew the abbey, it was a ruin, which he made the subject of several paintings. Renewed public interest led to the beginning of restoration work in 1828, and on the basis of designs by the Prussian landscape gardener Peter Joseph Lenné a park was laid out on the abbey precinct.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.