Gérgal Castle was built somewhere during the Late Middle Ages during Muslim rule. By 1492 it had fallen into the hands of the Catholic Monarchs; Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. They donated the castle to Alonso de Cárdenas, Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, for outstanding services during the Granada War.
During the 16th century it played an important defensive role against the inland raids of Barbary pirates, who were supported by the remaining Moorish population. In 1568 the Moors rebelled and the Christians in Gérgal were massacred and the Moors held the castle. They were driven out some time later and the castle was destroyed by Christian forces to avoid a repeated use by the Moors. Between 1571 and 1620 all the Moors were expelled from the Iberian mainland. This left the area around Gérgal Castle depopulated and open to banditry.
During the first half of the 17th century Gérgal Castle was rebuilt on the site of the old Muslim fortification to restore order and favor repopulation in the area. In the middle of the 18th century it belonged to Isabel Pacheco Portocarrero, Countesss of Puebla del Maestre and Marchioness of Torre de las Sirgadas. She used it for storing storing grains.
The castle we see today dates back to the rebuilding in the 17th century. Its core is a square crenellated tower with lower round towers at its corners. At its north western facade and attached to one of the corner towers is a semicircular bastion. It is build up out of horizontally laid slabs of slate. The castle is now also equipped with a crenellated outer wall, but this was built by the present owner.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.