The Pantokrator Monastery is ranked seventh in the hierarchical order of the twenty monasteries located on the Athos peninsula. As is case of the other institutions on Mount Athos, life at Pantokrator is coenobitic.
The Pantokrator Monastery is located near the Monastery of Stavronikita. The monastery was founded about 1357 by Alexios the Stratopedarch and John the Primikerios. They are buried at the monastery. Their monastery was built on the ruins of monastery of Ravdouchou that had been plundered by pirates during the years of Frankish occupation after the Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204.
The katholikon within the monastery walls, which dates from the fourteenth century, is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Our Lord. Due to a paucity of space the church is small. It is of Athonite style and has frescos painted by artists of the Macedonian school. The murals were restored in 1854 by the painter Mathaeos of Naousa.
The refectory was built in 1841. The monastery also has eight chapels within its walls and seven more around the monastery placed among the many hermit huts. The skete of the Prophet Elijah also belongs to the Pantokrator monastery.
Pantokrator monastery was seriously damaged by a fire in 1773 and was repaired by the vestry keeper Kyrillos. Damage from a 1948 fire was repaired by the Restoration Service.
The Pantokrator library holds some 350 codices, two liturgical scrolls, and 3,500 printed books. A few codices have been stolen in recent years. Among the vestments, liturgical objects, and relics of saints, the monastery holds a unique and valuable icon of the Virgin Gerontissa and part of the shield of St. Mercurius.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.