A document from 1177 from the Abbey of Hauterive mentions the Romont as a wooded hill. In 1239, Anselme (or Nantelme) sold the rights to Romont hill to Peter II of Savoy. At that time, Romont was part of the territory of the Bishop of Lausanne. In 1240, Peter II sent a castellan to Romont to build a castle and found a village. The main castle (Grand Donjon), with a typical Savoy square floor plan, was completed before 1260. The original castle partially collapsed in 1579 and was rebuilt by Fribourg in 1591. Another castle with a round tower, formerly known as the Petit Donjon, but now known as Boyer-tower was built around 1250-1260, most likely by Peter II.
In the 16th century, the new governors from Fribourg built a further wing - now home to the Museum’s collection of reverse painting on glass. The entrance gate to the courtyard and the well also date from that period. The huge wooden draw-wheel for the well (18th century), the parapet walkway, and some lovely old trees lend the courtyard a particular cachet.
The interior of the old castle is equally remarkable: solid sandstone walls and an imposing timber roof-framework stand in interesting contrast to the metal structures of the new orangery, passerelle and stairwell added in 2006 when remodelling the Museum.
Romont Castle provides a perfect setting for the Vitromusée and Vitrocentre. The castle stands at the top of a picturesque hill at an altitude of 780m. Together with the medieval church and houses surrounded by the old town walls, it shapes the distinctive silhouette of the small town of Romont. The square in front of the castle opens onto a magnificent panorama of the Alps, with the majestic Mont Blanc visible to the right on a clear day.
The keep and the main part of the castle - which today houses the Museum’s stained-glass collection - were built in the 13th century under Pierre II of Savoy.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.