St Peter's Abbey in the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is a former Benedictine monastery. The monastic community was the house monastery and burial place of the Zähringen family. It was originally founded in Weilheim, in or before 1073, but was forced by hostile military action during the Investiture Controversy to move to Hirsau. Duke Berthold II of Zähringen (1078–1111) re-founded it as a family monastery, but decided in about 1090 to move it to the site which is now St. Peter im Schwarzwald.
Here it soon developed as a reformed Benedictine monastery directly answerable to the papacy, as witness for example the privilege of Pope Urban II of 10 March 1095. The Vögte (lords protectors) were initially the Zähringen family but, in the late 13th century, they were succeeded by the Counts of Urach, against whom the monks were eventually obliged to seek the protection of Emperor Charles IV. In 1526 the office passed to the Habsburgs.
By the gift of the Zähringen family and their ministeriales the abbey acquired substantial property, particularly in the 11th and 12th centuries, located in the immediate area, in the Breisgau and in the Baar region, near Weilheim. The abbey, like most other landowners of the time, suffered significant loss of income and tenants after the middle of the 14th century.
The abbey suffered disastrous fires in 1238 and again in 1437. It lost importance in the later mediaeval period, and the monastic reforms of the 15th century had little effect here. Nevertheless, it managed to keep its property intact, even through the troubles of the Reformation. The premises were re-built in Baroque style in the 17th and 18th centuries; the present church with the two onion towers was built in the 1720s. The architect was Peter Thumb, and the opulent Baroque decoration was by Franz Joseph Spiegler (55 frescoes, 1727) and Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer (sculptures), among other artists and craftsmen. Peter Thumb also constructed the library. The abbey was dissolved in the secularisation of 1806.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.