The Abbey of Santa Maria de Benevívere was ordered to be built in the twelfth century by Don Diego Martínez de Villamayor. He was a Castilian noble from the house of the counts of Bureba, who was very influential at court. He was the advisor of Alfonso VII and Sancho III, and treasurer of Alfonso VIII. After losing his wife he decided to retire and devote himself to the contemplative life. He laid the foundation of the Abbey in 1169.
The Poema de Benevívere (Poem of Benevívere) was written in Latin around the beginning of the thirteenth century in 758 verses. The poem tells the story of Diego Martínez de Villamayor, who aspired to be a saint, and King Alfonso VIII of Castile. It contrasts the religious and secular goals and ideals, and shows their intimate relationship.
The house was occupied by Canons Regular living in community under the Augustinian Rule. It was approved by apostolic bulls of Pope Alexander III (1178), Pope Lucius III (1183), Pope Innocent IV (1284) and Pope Eugene IV (1483). The abbey also had two suffragans that followed the same rule, Trianos in León and Villalbura in Burgos. There were six dependent priories: Santiago of Tola near Ceinos de Campos, Vallodolid, San Salvador de Vallarramiel in Palencia, San Martín de Pereda near Riaño, León, Santa María de Pereda near Benavente, Zamora, Nuestra Señora de Mañino near Sotobañado, Palencia and the hospital of San Torcuato. The founder established a pilgrim hospital next to the abbey, served by monks, called White Hospital or San Torcuato. The abbey also served the farmers of the parish.
The monks lost their property in the Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal of 1835. The convent was sold in 1843 and was almost completely demolished, despite efforts by Valentín Carderera and the Central Commission of Monuments to save it. Most of the monastery's papers are now held in the National Historical Archives in Madrid. Other relics are in a park at Carrión de los Condes and in various museums. A sarcophagus from Benevívere sculpted by Roy Martínez de Bureba y de Bame is held in the Palencia Museum. There are now only a few small remnants of the abbey at the site.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.