Stunning Medieval Norwegian Stave Churches

A stave church is a kind of wooden church built during the Middle Ages in Northern Europe. It is impressive that no nail or glue was used in the construction of traditional stave churches. Unfortunately, a few of them could escape from burning down and survive until today. Here are some of the stave churches in Norway that reflect the expertness of Vikings as adept shipbuilders.

Borgund Stave Church, 12th Century

Borgund Stave Church was built around 1180 in dedication to the Apostle Andrew. Although it was a Christian church, the dragon motives on the ridges and the runic inscriptions carry the traces of pagan tradition. The church was used as the parish church of Lærdal Municipality until 1868 when it was turned into a museum.

Borgund Stave Church

Gol Stave Church Museum, Replica of the Old 12th Century Church

Gol Stave Church
Inside the Gol Stave Church

Urnes Stave Church, 12th Century

Urnes Stave Church is one of the 28 surviving medieval stave churches in Norway. Like other surviving stave churches, its construction on a stone foundation helped it survive for centuries. The church was also tarred every few years to protect it from harsh weather conditions which explains its remarkable black colour.

Urnes Stave Church
Urnes Stave Church engravings

Fantoft Stave Church, 12th Century

Fantoft Stave Church was originally built in the mid-12th century in Sogn; however, it was moved in pieces to Bergen in 1883 due to the threat of demolition. In 1992, the church was burned down by arson and rebuilt between 1992 and 1999.

Fantoft Stave Church

Lom Stave Church, 12th Century

Lom Stave Church

Heddal Stavkirke, 13th Century

According to a legend, five farmers from Heddal decides to built a church, and one day, Raud Rygi (one of the farmers) runs into a stranger who is willing to built the church for them. However, the stranger has three conditions one of which must be fulfilled before the church is built: Raud will either fetch the sun and moon from the sky, lose his life blood, or guess the stranger’s name. Naturally, Raud chooses the last one. However, the stranger finishes up most of the work in two days which leaves Raud only one more day to save his life. So, Raud takes a walk in the fields to think clearly and hears a soft female song: “Tomorrow Finn will bring us the Moon./ Where he goes, the sun and christian blood perish. /He brings children to song and play./ But now my children, sleep safe and sound.” Solving the riddle, Raud goes and calls the stranger by his name. In the end, the stranger turns out to be Finn Fairhair who is a troll that cannot even stand the sound of church bells.

Heddal Stave Church
Sigurd Rage

Torpo Stave Church, 12th Century

Inside the Torpo Stave Church

Kaupanger Stave Church, 12th Century

Kaupanger Stave Church, Norway