The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial archaeology, botany, zoology and geology. It is the largest museum in Northern Ireland.
The Ulster Museum was founded as the Belfast Natural History Society in 1821 and began exhibiting in 1833. It has included an art gallery since 1890. Originally called the Belfast Municipal Museum and Art Gallery, in 1929, it moved to its present location in Stranmillis. The new building was designed by James Cumming Wynne.
The museum contains significant finds from Northern Ireland, although in earlier periods these were often sent to the British Museum or later Dublin, as with the Broighter Hoard, now in the National Museum of Ireland. Objects in the museum include the Malone Hoard of 19 polished Neolithic axe heads, the Moss-side Hoard of Mesolithic stone tools, the important Downpatrick Hoard of Bronze Age gold jewellery, part of the Late Roman Coleraine Hoard, the Viking Shanmullagh Hoard, and the medieval coins in the Armagh City Hoard and Armagh Castle Street Hoard.
There are other significant objects of the Bronze Age gold jewellery for which Ireland is notable, including four of the 100-odd surviving gold lunulae, and some important early Celtic art, including a decorated bronze shield found in the River Shannon, and the Bann Disk, bronze with triskele decoration.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.