Broch of Ayre, also known as St. Mary's Broch, is an Iron Age structure in Orkney. It was first excavated in December 1901 and then again in the summer of 1909. Little now survives, though part of the broch wall is still extant. The excavations revealed traces of internal architecture and external, probably later, structures.
The 1901 excavations revealed that the broch wall survived to over a metre in height in parts, with an entrance passage facing to the south-east. The passage contained a broken lintel and architectural features including a guard cell. The interior of the broch contained radial partitions using vertical slabs of stone, and a lintelled well. The broch itself was almost eighteen metres in external diameter, with walls almost five metres thick in places. The 1909 excavation revealed external buildings, likely built later, and the interior of the broch may also have been re-used and partially remodelled in a subsequent phase.
A number of iron objects were discovered, including two spearheads and an axehead. Locational information from the excavation is poor, although one of the spearheads was found associated with the guard cell. Nail heads, bronxe pins and a bronze ring were also found. Evidence of metal-working, including a mass of conglomerate with fused pottery and iron, was also found. Bone pins, combs, antler fragments and cetacean bone vessels were found along with several dice. A large quantity of pottery was also found, along with the remains of whale, seal, ox, pig, red deer, sheep, horse, gannet and other birds, and human bone.References:
The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.
The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.
The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.
There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).
The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.