Pfeffingen Castle is one of the largest castle ruins in the canton Basel-Land. In the area around Aesch and Pfeffingen existed originally a Franconian royal court. However, no remains have preserved from this time. In 1135 Notker von Pfeffingen was mentioned for the first time, which was probably related to Count von Saugers.
At the end of the 12th century, the Pfeffingen castle fell to the Count of Thierstein. In 1212 a family of Schaffner von Pfeffingen, who lived in the castle, was mentioned for the first time. In the mid-13th century the castle was comprehensively rebuilt. At this time, the curtain wall and the large residential tower were built. In 1335, the Bishop of Basel besieged the castle without success.
The great earthquake of Basel damaged Pfeffingen castle in 1356. When the Counts of Thierstein-Pfeffingen tried to expand their rule, it led into conflict with the city of Basel, whereupon Basel army successfully besieged the castle in 1376 and burned it down. The castle was restored after it.
In the 15th century Pfeffingen was conquered several times in wars between Austrian Habsburgs and Swiss armies (during the Old Zürich War). The castle, heavily damaged by the numerous wars, could not be maintained. In 1571, a new residential building was built as a replacement for the old residential tower, and a tower-defended gate and a bridge were built in the eastern part of the complex.
In the Thirty Years' War in 1637 the castle was occupied by Swedish troops under Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar and only eleven years later left in very poor condition to the bishop. Around 1750 the castle was finally abandoned by the Blarer family of Wartensee, who moved to the Aesch castle. Afterwards, a hermit lived temporarily in the castle. In 1761, the castle was auctioned on demolition and then fell rapidly.
After preparatory work in 2011 and 2012, construction work began in May 2013, overseen by ZPF Ingenieure. As the lime mortar that is used here can only be worked with when there is no frost, i.e. in the warmer half of the year, the work will take around six years. As the largest and most seriously damaged part of the ruins, the residential tower is to be reconstructed first. Here, there is a particular focus on sealing the coping and structurally securing unstable sections. The goal of the work is to repair the existing damage and to preserve the historical structure.
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.