Archeological investigations have shown that the Lauterstein castle was built in the second half of the 12th century. It was first mentioned in writing in 1304 when a document named a Johannis in Lutirstein of the ministerial family of Erdmannsdorf in the castle. Its purpose was the protection of a medieval trade route between Leipzig and Prague across the Ore Mountains.
The family of Schellenberg became lords of Lauenstein in the early 14th century. They lost their influence in 1323 after they lost a feud with Altzella Abbey, and margrave Frederick the Brave enfeoffed the burgraves Albrecht IV von Altenburg und Otto I von Leisnig, who had helped to support him and the abbey, with Lauterstein castle and the town of Zöblitz.
Kaspar von Berbisdorf from Freiberg, an owner of mines and metalworks in the Ore Mountains, bought the lordship of Lauterstein for 4000 guilders from burgrave Otto II of Leisnig and Altenburg in 1434. His descendants Bastian and Melchior divided the lordship and the castle in 1497 into Oberlauterstein and Niederlauterstein. A fire damaged the castle in 1530, but it was rebuilt within a few years. In 1559, Prince-elector Augustus forced the Berbisdorf family to sell castle and lordship Lauterstein for 107,784 guilders and installed the administration of a Saxon Amt in the castle.
According to local tradition, on 14. March 1639, three Swedish horsemen set fire to the castle. It was not rebuilt and has remained a ruin since then. The administrative seat of Amt Lauterstein moved to Marienberg and later to Olbernhau and Zöblitz.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.