At the entrance to the Draga Valley, by the fringes of the village of Begunje, the picturesque ruins of Kamen Castle look down from the top of a rocky ledge. This centuries-old trade-route guardian, built on a raised location, awaits you with its Romanesque tower and the imposing ruins of its Gothic and Renaissance extensions.
The castle was built in the twelfth century by the counts of Ortenburg; however, they chose not to live there, and so the castle was managed by castellans. In 1418, the castle came into the possession of the counts of Cilli, and subsequently fell into the hands of the Lambergs in 1436. The most distinguished member of the Lamberg family to come from Kamen Castle was Gašper Lambergar, a tournament knight who is sung about in the folk poem Pegam and Lambergar.
The counts of Lamberg abandoned the castle in the middle of the eighteenth century and moved to the more comfortable Katzenstein Mansion in Begunje.
The castle's location at the entrance to the Draga Valley, its preserved Romanesque tower — which can be climbed all the way to the top — the remnants of its Gothic and Renaissance keeps, and the trail that leads you through the castle area all guarantee a memorable visit. A visit to the castle is free of charge and at your own risk.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.