Begun as a three-aisle hall church at about the same time as the town Ribnitz was founded, the oldest pre-Romanesque parts of the St. Mary's Church are located in the western outer wall of the building. Pilister corner strips, a rounded frieze and lanset windows are amongst other remanents of this first church.
In the 14th century, the church was enlarged by the addition of two bays, and decorated by the addition of peaked arch portals in the north of south of these. After a 1455 fire, the building was rebuilt with a pentagonal choir bay and a massive ornamental helm on the top of the spire. The Great fire of 1759 destroyed this ornamental helm, as well as the building's vaulting and medieval interior. Under instruction of the court masterbuilder Johann Jachim Busch of Ludwigsluster, the tower's roof and its interior was rebuilt in a Gothic style.
The centre aisle of the church was distinguished from this time on by a semi-circular barrel-shaped timber supports, the side-aisles by a flat wooden roof. Busch envisaged a pulpit alter, and after the pulpit was relocated into the church nave, the alter was completed with the addition of the Ludwigluster court painter J.H. Surlandt; the image is a copy of Annibale Carraci's 'The Burial of Christ'. The church's northern and southern side-chapels were never restored due to insufficient funds, with the foundations also removed. Between 1841 and 1843, Georg Adolph Demmler oversaw the addition of a latern to the of a Baroque-style tower crown, heighening the tower, which still offers a sightseeing platform to visitors. In the 1970s, the church was threatened by structural damage, losing once more much of its interior: the 1883 organ, built by Friese of Schwerin, was removed. After 1980, the church was renovated, the interior again altered and a winter church on the site added.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.