The Château du Plessis-Josso is a fortified 14th century manor house. It is open for tours during the summer, and offers its main hall for hosting events and marriages as well as a small country cottage outside the enclosing walls.
Well-preserved and partially inhabited, the manor-house stands next to a large pond. This feudal Breton ensemble still has its fortified enceinte with towers and crenellated walls that protected it from the armed gangs and pillagers who were operating in the region during the Hundred Years' War and later during the Wars of Religion of the 16th century.
Built around 1330 by Sylvestre Josso, squire of the Duke Jean III during the turbulent period of the Breton War of Succession in the 14th century, it passed next by a powerful alliance to the Rosmadec family and served as a residence for dignitaries such as a bishop, sénéchaux and the governors of various Breton towns. In the late 18th century it became the property of the Le Mintier de Léhélec family who still live there today.
Plessis-Josso, like all 15th century manors in Brittany, had especially an agricultural function as the head of a domaine of 1,500 hectares spread over several parishes and a with population of nearly 500 inhabitants. It had several mills, baker's ovens, a chapel and a small private port in the Gulf of Morbihan. Its role was therefore political, economic and administrative.
This medieval site is composed of several sections of varying architectural styles and eras: the main corps de logis dating from the 15th century with its Gothic dormer windows, a 16th-century Renaissance pavilion, Classical 17th century outbuildings, and a complete enclosing wall whose corner tower defended the access road that spans the causeway, between the lake and the mill.
The ground-floor hall has a very beautiful example of a crédence de justice (wall-cupboard built directly into the stone wall) that was used by the lord of the manor to place books and documents relating to the administration of the manor-court.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.