Mine Howe is a prehistoric subterranean man-made chamber dug 20 feet deep inside a large mound. The origin of the howe (from Old Norse word haugr meaning barrow) is not perfectly understood. Experts believe that it was built roughly 2000 years ago during the Iron Age. There is some similarity to the well inside the Iron Age Broch of Gurness.
Its walls are lined with stones fitted to form an arch over the cavity and 29 steps lead to a rock floor. The entrance is at the top of the small hill and there are indications of other Iron Age and earlier activity around the site. A flight of stone steps descend to a half-landing where they turn back on themselves and a further steps descend to a chamber. This chamber is only about 1.3 metres in diameter but is over four metres high with a corbelled roof. The bottom step into this chamber is 0.9 metres high and gives it a cistern-like appearance. At the half-landing two subsidiary chambers/passages open out, one above the other. Most of the structure is lined with beautifully built dry-stone walling.
Mine Howe was first explored in 1946 and misidentified as an Iron Age broch. After the 1940s' excavations were finished, Mine Howe was covered over and left untouched and nearly forgotten for almost 50 years. Douglas Paterson, a farmer who owned the land at the time, rediscovered the site in 1999. He removed material that had filled in during the intervening years and built a small wooden entrance over the opening. He built stairs leading down into the chamber and allowed visitors inside.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.