Thorberg Castle is a former Carthusian monastery, or charterhouse, now a prison, located in Krauchthal. Of the castle of the von Thorberg family, first documented in 1175, there remain only fragments of the foundations of the tower. The family died out in 1397 with Peter von Thorberg, the last knight: he bequeathed his many estates to the Carthusians, who converted the castle into a Carthusian monastery (or charterhouse).
At the Reformation in 1528 all the assets and property of the monastery passed to the state of Bern. The income from the Vogtei Thorberg was administered by a Vogt from the Bern patriciate. Until 1798 various care organisations, a prison and a hospital were accommodated in the monastery buildings.
In 1805 the former almshouse, which had provided shelter for the aged poor, was put to use as a reformatory, model school and ancillary (or overflow) lunatic asylum. To these were added in 1807 a further institution for the accommodation of those who 'had not really merited imprisonment'. The care organisations were replaced on 1 November 1849 by a workhouse or forced labour unit. The opening of the psychiatric clinic at Waldau near Bern made it possible to close the ancillary asylum in 1855. In 1893 a newly built cell block was opened as a prison; various other extensions were added during the 20th century, most recently in 1998.
From the Carthusian monastery there remain the women's guesthouse and the chapel, dating from 1510–15, the frescoes of which show the Adoration of the Magi and the Adoration of the Shepherds. A figure of the 'Man of Sorrows' by the sculptor Erhart Küng, master of works at the Berner Münster, formerly belonging to the charterhouse, is today kept in the Historisches Museum Bern.
The construction of the Baroque castle is from the time of the Landvogt. The old sandstone quarry nearby can still be seen, particularly the traces of hand-working and handtools.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.