Brauweiler Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery, founded and endowed in 1024 by Pfalzgraf Ezzo, count palatine of Lotharingia of the Ezzonian dynasty and his wife Matilda of Germany, a daughter of Emperor Otto II and Theophano. Ezzo and Matilda were buried here, as were their two eldest sons Liudolf, Count Palatine of Lotharingia (d. 1031) and Otto II, Duke of Swabia (d. 1047).
From 1065 until his death in 1091, Wolfhelm of Brauweiler, later Saint Wolfhelm, was abbot here. His relics were enshrined in the abbey church, and miracles were reported at his tomb, but all traces of them were lost centuries ago.
The present abbey church, now the parish church of Saint Nicholas and Saint Medardus, is the third building on the site, built between 1136 and 1220 or later. The abbey was dissolved in the secularisation of 1803. The premises were subsequently used, under a Napoleonic law, as a hostel for beggars, and from 1815 under the Prussian regime as a workhouse.
From 1933 to 1945 the buildings were used for the internment, torture, and murder of political and social 'undesirables' by the Gestapo and the civil authorities of the Nazi government. Prisoners included Konrad Adenauer, the former mayor of Cologne and first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. From 1945 to 1949, it was an open camp for displaced persons administered first by the British Army and then by United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.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.