Sigmundskron Castle (Castel Firmiano) is an extensive castle and set of fortifications near Bolzano in South Tyrol. The first historical mention of the castle dates back to AD 945. In 1027 Emperor Conrad II transferred it to the Bishop of Trent. In the 12th century it was given to ministeriales, who from then on were named the Firmian family. Around 1473 the Prince of Tyrol, Duke Sigismund the Rich, bought the castle, renamed it Sigmundskron Castle and had it developed to withstand firearms. Of the old castle there are only a few remnants left today, mostly located on the highest point of the site. Due to financial difficulties Sigmund had to pledge the castle soon afterwards. As a result the site fell increasingly into disrepair.
At the end of the 18th century the castle belonged to the Count Wolkenstein, from 1807 to 1870 the counts of Sarnthein and from then until 1994 the counts of Toggenburg. In 1976, the half-ruined castle was partially restored by an innkeeper's family and opened as a restaurant. In 1996 the castle passed into the possession of the Province of Bolzano. In the spring of 2003, after much controversy, Reinhold Messner was given a licence for his long-planned mountain museum.
During construction work a Neolithic grave was discovered in March 2006, in which a woman's skeletal remains were found. The age of the grave is estimated to be 6,000-7,000 years.
The fortress is an important political symbol in South Tyrol. In 1957, under the leadership of Silvius Magnago, the largest protest rally in the history of South Tyrol was held here. More than 30,000 gathered in the castle to protest against the failure of the Paris Convention to protest and demand freedom for South Tyrol.References:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.