Hofhegnenberg Castle construction began originally in the early 14h century, when the ministerial family Hegnenberg left their original motte-and-bailey castle at today’s Althegnenberg, only five kilometres away from Hofhegnenberg. Between 1399 and 1540, Hofhegnenberg was no longer under the rule of the Hegnenberg family but had instead been passed as a fiefdom from one ducal pfleger, or overlord, to another. In 1557 the medieval castle was reconstructed and the work continued until 1790.
Hofhegnenberg Castle is characterized by a remarkable overall structure with an intriguing architectural potpourri composed of stylistic elements ranging from Medieval to Renaissance, Baroque and even Neo-Gothic. There are several elements within the building complex dating as far back as to the 16th and 17th century, such as carved-stone coats of arms of the noble family Hegnenberg emblazoning different areas of the facade. One of these can be found in the inner courtyard next to the massive wooden portal leading to the St Maria chapel, incorporated in the castle’s north wing. This particular stone tablet dates back to either 1623 or 1628, which cannot be clearly determined at this point, as the engravings have become too eroded to make an unambiguous reading possible.
The castle’s main four-wing complex is overall dominated by rectangular structures, and comprises 5 gable-roofed buildings, all different in height with a belfry towering above all other structures and a Neo-Gothically altered gateway building to the west, framed by two shorter towers, one of which is topped by an onion dome. The adjoining farmyard was once located on the estate’s westside, but relocated and entirely rebuilt during the 19th century to the north, where it still stands today.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.