Besieged in 778 by Charlemagne, Château Fort de Lourdes became the residence of the Counts of Bigorre in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the 13th century, it passed into the possession of the Counts of Champagne, part of the kingdom of Navarre before coming under the crown of France under Philippe le Bel. It was ceded to the English by the Treaty of Brétigny in 1360, before returning to France at the start of the 15th century after two sieges. In the 17th century, the castle became a royal prison, and a state prison after the French Revolution, continuing in this role until the start of the 20th century when it became the Pyrenean Museum (1921) which it remains.
The castle's origins go back to Roman times. Various remains from this era (fragments of sculpture, votive offerings, wall foundations) were brought to light by military engineering work in the 19th century. However, a consequence of these works was the destruction of the greater part of the ancient walls. The finds are exhibited on the site.
Today, the oldest remains date from the 11th and 12th centuries and consist of the foundations of the present fortifications. The castle was reinforced in the 13th and 14th centuries (construction of the keep), and again in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Notre-Dame-du-Château chapel houses the furniture of the former parish church of Saint-Pierre de Lourdes, destroyed in 1904. The present chapel is constructed with recycled material from Saint-Pierre de Lourdes.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.