Zwing Uri is a ruined medieval castle north of Amsteg, today in the territory of the municipality of Silenen.
The castle is notable for its role in Swiss historiography as the first fortress destroyed in the Burgenbruch at the beginning of the Swiss Confederacy. The slighting of Zwing Uri (Twing Üren) is mentioned in the White Book of Sarnen, a Swiss chronicle of 1470. The event is placed in the year 1307 by the Chronicon Helveticum (1570).
The site had been occupied since the Bronze Age. By 1150, there had been a farmstead with three buildings. By the early 13th century, the dwelling was replaced by a defensive tower. During the period of 1310 to 1320, the tower was still standing, and there are traces of a planned expansion into a full castle with a ring wall and a moat. This expansion was interrupted at about six weeks into the construction work, and the castle was abandoned in ca. 1320, i.e. 13 years after the traditional date of the Burgenbruch.
The site remained unoccupied until 1868, when a restaurant was built, using stones from the ruin. The remains were secured in 1928, when the ruin was acquired by the Schweizerischer Burgenverein. Archaeological excavations of the ruin were performed in 1978.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.