St. Blaise Abbey (Kloster St. Blasien) was a Benedictine monastery. The early history of the abbey is obscure. Its predecessor in the 9th century is supposed to have been a cell of Rheinau Abbey, known as cella alba (the 'white cell'), but the line of development between that and the confirmed existence of St Blaise's Abbey in the 11th century is unclear. At some point the new foundation would have had to become independent of Rheinau, in which process the shadowy Reginbert of Seldenbüren (died about 962), traditionally named as the founder, may have played some role. The first definite abbot of St Blaise's however was Werner I (1045–1069). On 8 June 1065 the abbey received a grant of immunity from Emperor Henry IV, although it had connections to the family of the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden.
Between 1070 and 1073 there seem to have been contacts between St. Blaise's and the active Cluniac abbey of Fruttuaria in Italy, which led to St. Blaise's following the Fruttuarian reforms, introducing lay-brothers or 'conversi' and probably even the reformation of the abbey as a double monastery for both monks and nuns (the nuns are said to have re-settled to Berau Abbey by 1117).
Bernold of Constance (ca 1050–1100) in his histories counts St Blaise's alongside Hirsau Abbey as leading Swabian reform monasteries.
During the course of the 12th century however the zeal of the monks cooled, as their attention became increasingly focussed on the acquisition, management and exploitation of their substantial estates, which by the 15th century extended across the whole of the Black Forest and included not only the abbey's priories named above, but also the nunnery at Gutnau and the livings of Niederrotweil, Schluchsee, Wettelbrunn, Achdorf, Hochemmingen, Todtnau, Efringen, Schönau, Wangen, Plochingen, Nassenbeuren and many others.
The original Vogtei (protective lordship) of the Bishops of Basel was shaken off quite early: a charter of the Emperor Henry V dated 8 January 1125 confirms that the abbey possessed imperial protection and free election of their Vogt. Nevertheless, the office afterwards became a possession of the Zähringer, and after their extinction in 1218, was held at Imperial will and gift under the Emperor Frederick II. While this may well have preserved a certain bond with the Emperor, there seems to have been no question of St Blaise's having the status of a 'Reichskloster'.
From the mid-13th century the Vögte were the Habsburgs and this drew St. Blaise's increasingly into the Austrian sphere of influence. The ties to the Empire remained, however: the abbey was named between 1422 and 1521 in the lists of imperial territories and the Swabian Circle tried in vain in 1549 to claim St Blaise's as an imperial abbey. The four imperial lordships which St Blaise's had acquired by the end of the 13th century — Blumegg, Bettmaringen, Gutenburg and Berauer Berg — in fact formed the nucleus of the reichsunmittelbar lordship of Bonndorf, constituted in 1609, from which the Prince-Abbots derived their status in the Holy Roman Empire.
The abbey was dissolved in the course of secularisation in 1806 and the monastic premises were thereupon used as one of the earliest mechanised factories in Germany. The monks however, under the last Prince-Abbot Dr Berthold Rottler, found their way to St. Paul's Abbey in the Lavanttal in Austria, where they settled in 1809.
From 1934, the remaining buildings have been occupied by the well-known Jesuit college, the Kolleg St. Blasien.
The abbey church burnt down in 1768, and was rebuilt as a Baroque round church by the architect Pierre Michel d'Ixnard, with an enormous dome 46 metres across and 63 metres high (the third-largest in Europe north of the Alps), during the years up to 1781 under the Prince-Abbot Martin Gerbert. It remains as the Dom St Blasius, or 'St Blaise's Cathedral' (so called because of its size and magnificence, not because it is a cathedral in any ecclesiastiacal or administrative sense). The effects of another catastrophic fire in 1874 were only finally remedied in the 1980s.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.