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Old August 17th, 2004, 01:04 AM   #1
Ŝróndeimr
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Norwegian Stave Churchs

Norwegian stave church thread

Norwegian Stave Churchs is one of the worlds most impressive churches, and the oldest wooden structures which is left on earth. The first stave churchs was built when the christianity came to Norway in the 10th and 11th century. Between 750 and 1 250 Stave churchs was built between the 10th century and the 15th century. Only 27 is left.

With the introduction of Christianity to Norway in the 10th and 11th centuries, churches of different sizes and forms were built. Some may have been made partly of stones and wood. Some wooden buildings had earth-bound posts, and some had their lower construction set on a frame. Even though the wooden churches had structural differences, they give a recognizable general impression. Formal differences may hide common features of their planning; while apparently similar buildings may turn out to have their structural elements organized differently. Certain basic principles must have been common to all types of building. Basic geometrical figures, numbers that were easy to work with, one or just a few length units and simple ratios, and perhaps proportions as well were among the theoretical aids all builders inherited. The specialist was the man who knew a particular type of building so well that he could systematize its elements in a slightly different way from what was the case in the buildings known hitherto, thus carrying developments a stage further.

Here is some stave church information and images from most of the last 28 churchs in Norway.

Borgund stave church
Lĉrdal - Norway

Borgund stave church a triple nave stave church and is Norways best preserved church. The church was probably built in the end of the 12th century, and has not changes structure or had a major reconstruction since that date. The church site shows evidence of a previous building, which can point to a earlier church or perhaps an old heathen temple that had been taken into use as a church. The interior of the church, except for the pulpit and the altarpiece, is mainly free from the after reformatory decorations seen in most other stave churches. An authentic medieval square shaped baptismal font made of soapstone is still a part of the interior.















Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Hopperstad Stave Church
Vik - Norway

Hopperstad stave church is one of the oldest stave churchs in Norway and dates back to 1140. But, 700 years later the church was left and its exterior stripped. The church was in very poor condition in many years intill Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments purchased the building in 1880, and architect Peter Andreas Blix reconstructed the church. During this reconstruction they found carved sections underneath the floor which indicates that the new church replaced an older church, which was probably built in the latter half of the 11th century.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Kaupanger stave church
Kaupanger - Norway

Kaupanger Stave Church is the largest stave church in the Sogn region. The nave is supported by 22 staves, 8 on each of the longer sides and 3 on each of the shorter. The elevated chancel is carried by 4 free standing staves. The church has the largest number of staves to be found in any one stave church.

Kaupanger Stave Church was built in 1190, and is situated on the ruines of what might be two previous post churches. Kaupanger was a market town that king Sverre burned down in 1184 to punish the local inhabitants for disobeying him. The stave church standing on this site probably burned down in this fire.Several restoration projects have taken place both inside the church and on the exterior, but in spite of these changes, the medieval construction has been preserved. The pulpit, altarpiece and font are all from the 17th century.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Kvernes Stavechurch
Averĝy

Kvernes Stavechurch was first built between 1300 - 1350 and is one of the youngest stavechurchs in Norway. The church has alse changed dramaticly durning the 1500 - 1600 century. Only some of the ground construction is left of the old church model.





Nore stave church
Numedal - Norway

Nore Stave Church was built ca 1200 A.D. The Church was built with galleries, a chancel and cross naves - an architectural style that was unique in Europe during the Middle Ages. The Church also has a central mast, that was originally the support for a tower, mostly likely containing church bells. The walls and ceiling of the interior are decorated with murals, among them scenes from the bible presented as riddles!








One of the very small and tiny entrances.

Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Rĝdven Stavechurch
Rauma

Rĝdven Stavechurch is from the late 1200, and is only stave church in Mĝre & Romsdal which is still standing. This church has also changed dramaticly in the 1600th century. And most of the decorations outside is from the 1600th century, while some decorations inside is from the late 1200 century.



Torpo Stavechurch
Aal (Ċl)

Torpo Stavechurch was built in 1192 and is still in same structure and architecture. Some parts of the church has being demolished durining the years, and in 1880 they was about to demolich the church completly, but was saved in the last hour.




The old church was supose to be demolished because there was no need for two churchs in the same area.

Urnes stave church
Urnes - Norway

The site which now carry Urnes stavechurch has been place for three previously stave churchs. The church has never been reconstructed since it was built in 1129. On the long northern wall, original decorated sections from the demolished church have been used: the portal, wall planks and a corner post which is from 1050. The decorated gables from the same church are now covered to prevent wear and tear. Urnes stave church is also one of the eldest and most decorated of all stave churches and is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Uvdal stave church
Numedal - Norway

Uvdal Stave Church was built at the end of the 12th Century on the remains of an older church. The churches of the 12th Century were no more than 40 square meters in size and were therefore often expanded both before and after the Reformation. The cross naves were built in 1723. The exterior of the Church was panelled in 1760. The interior is ornately decorated. Two scary halfmasks are quite visible on the cross poles, and according to myth they were able to capture demons. Divine services during summer. Nore and Uvdal District Museum nearby.









Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.


Decorations inside the church, looks more islamic than Scandenavian.

Fantoft stave church
Bergen, Norway

Fantoft stave church was originally built in Fortun, a village deep inside the Sogne fjord around year 1150. In the 19th century this church was threaten by demolishion as hundreds of other stave churchs around Norway. But the church was saved, and moved to Fantoft in Bergen in 1883. But in 1994 the church was totally destroyed after a well known satanists burned down the church. A new version was built, and finally completed in 1997. This version is supose to be exactly like the old version.









Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here

Gol stave church (new)
Gol - Norway

Gol stave church was built in the early 13th century. However this stave church was moved to the national museum in Oslo in the 19th century. So this church is a model of Gol stave church and was built in 1994.















Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Gol stave church (old)
Oslo - Norway

The original Gol stave church in Gol was built in the 13th century. But in the 19th centurt this church became to small, and was abonded and demolished after 700 years of service. But the material and the interiour was sent to Bygdĝy in Oslo, where they rebuilt the church in the National Museum in 1884. The church was rebuilt with the same design, although some small changes was done.

On the old plot to this church in Gol a new stave church was rebuilt in 1994, which is also a true copy of this church.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Ĝye stave church
Ĝye, Norway

Ĝye stave church is a triple nave church and dates to approximately 1150-1200 AD. The church was situated next to the river Vangsmjĝsa in Ĝye. But the river flooded almost every spring and the dead bodies around the church bounce up from their tomb. So the church was moved, this time to a location further away from the river. But in 1747 the church was torn down and hidden away, and a new church was built on this plot. However, in 1935 they reconstructed the new church, and below the floor in the church they found the material from Ĝye stave church. 156 pieces of the church was used to rebuilt a new stave church which was completed in 1956. Ĝye stave church si today one of the smallest, and might be one of the oldest reminding stave church in Norway.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Hĝre Stavechurch
Vang - Valdres

Hĝre Stavechurch was built in 1179 uppon some church ruins of a older church. The church has changes dramaticly several times, and the look today has some danish decorations and shape.



Eidsborg stave church
Lċrdal - Norway

Eidsborg stave church was built in the middel of the 13th century. Many legents comes from this church, one of them is that the church was supose to be built by "stronger powers"! The church is today one of the best preserved stave church, but has been partly reconstructed in the 19th century. The reconstruction work did however not affect the structure and the shape of the church.













To view 360 degree panorama (1.2MB/quicktime), press here. (worth a view)

Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Vċgċ Stavechurch
Vċgċ

Vċgċ Stavechurch was first built in the early 1100th century, but has being demolished once and rebuilt in the same location in 1625 - 1631. The church is very well decorated inside and most of the paintings is from the first church in the early 1100th century.



Heddal stave church
Notodden - Norway

Heddal stave church is a triple nave stave church and is Norways largest stave churches. The legent say the church was built in three days by Finn which was a troll. This probably happend in the beginning of the 13th century. After the reformation the church was in a very poor condition, and a restoration took place during 1849 - 1851. However, because those who did it didn't have the necessary knowledge and skills, yet another restoration was necessary in 1950's. The interior is marked by the period after the Lutheran Reformation in 1536/37 and is for a great part a result of the restoration that took place in the 1950's.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Ringebu Stavechurch
Ringebu

Ringebu Stavechurch was built in 1220, and is probably the most strangest stavechurch in Norway. The church has not changed much, ecept for the church tower painted inred which was built in 1630.





Garmo stave church
Lillehammer - Norway

This church is situated in a museum park called Maihaugen in Lillehammer. The church originally came from Lom and was built around 1150 AD on a site to a previous church which is belived to be built in 1021 by a viking chieftain. The church consist of 17th and 18th century inventory with a pulpit from Romsdalen. In 1882 however, the church was finally disassembled and sold to Anders Sandvig, who brought it to Lillehammer. However, it was not re-erected at Maihaugen before during 1920-1921, where it resides as one of the most visited stave churches in Norway and a part of the Sandvig Collections at Maihaugen in Lillehammer today.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Lom stave church
Lom - Oppland

Lom stave church is a triple nave Stave Church that uses free standing inner columns to support a raised section in the ceiling of the main nave. This type of church is amongst the oldest Stave Churches. The church was first situated in a sub valley to the valley Gudbrandsdal in Oppland County, some 60 kilometers west of Otta.

The church dates to approximately 1150-1200 AD, but was rebuilt into cruciform during the 1600's. The chancel was decorated in 1608, and the nave was enlarged towards west in 1634. The cross section was added in 1663, but this was made in stave like frame work. A complete restoration took also place in 1933, and a smaller one in 1973. This stave church is actually one of just a very few stave churches of which the original medieval crest with a dragon head still survives.







Rĝldal stave church
Rĝldal - Norway

Rĝldal stave church was built in the 12th-13th century. It is best known for its miraculous crucifix, from which, legend has it, drops of water emerged every Midsummer Night. This fluid was supposed to have a curative effect. Whether anyone was actually cured of an illness is unknown. Rĝldal stave church received generous gifts from many of the pilgrims who visited it, and as a result the little village was quite wealthy during the Middle Ages. In the 1600s the interior was richly decorated with wall paintings. In the late 19th century the church was reconstructed, and some of the history of how the church was recovered. This led to a large investigation of how the church was built. The results was that Rĝldal stave church was quite different from other stave churches.









Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Flesberg Stavechurch
Flesberg

Flesberg Stavechurch was first built in the late 11th century, construction start is suposed to have started in 1111. The church has being reconstructed once in 1735, and the structure and the outside facade is mostly of the 15-17th century church style.





Grip Stavechurch
Kristiansund

Grip Stavechurch is suposed to be built in the late 14th century, and is one of the youngest and smallest stave churchs in Norway. The church was almost completly reconstruced in 1621. The church size is very smal, lenght: 12m, hight: 6m.



Undredal stave church
Undredal - Norway

Undredal stave church was built in the middel of the 12th century, probably 1147. But the church has been moved from different locations and reconstructed a few times. In 1913 they planned to demolish the church and move it to a museum, but this never happend. Instead it was reconstructed in 1984. The church is today the smallest church in Scandinavia with 40 seats.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Rollag Stavechurch
Rollag

Rollag Stavechurch is supose to be from 1482, but can be older. The church has changed dramaticly but the facade is the same as the oldest known church.





Reinli Stavechurch
Reinli

This church was probably built around year 1326. The church has changed in structure, but the facade and style is exactly the same. But the largest changes has been done inside the church, between 1885-1886 the interiour was completly changed and redecorated.





Hĝyjord stave church
Andebu - Norway

Hĝyjord stave church was built in the end of the 12th century. The church was later removed once and rebuilt. Last reconstruction was completed in 1950.







Link to article in Rate Our Architecture here.

Lomen Stavechurch
Vestre Sildre - Valdres

Lomen Stavechurch is supose to be built in 1192 or later. The church has the same structure and facade as the oldest model but the roof and the interiour has been changed durning reconstructions.





This is most of the churches we has left here in Norway, the last ones is standing in museums, or historic ruin sites. There is two more Stave churchs left in the world, one in Sweden (Hedared Stavkirke) from the 15th century, or older. And the oldest in the world was built by Norwegian vikings under the invation of UK. This church is from 1013, or from 845 and is located in Greensted, Essex. Today the ruins is what is left of it. Other countries like Poland and USA we can find models of the Norwegian church. In Poland a exact same church was built up few years ago, the same in USA. They are planning to built up a new model of Gol Stavechurch in the suggested Scandinavian Heritage Park in Northern Dakota.

Last edited by Ŝróndeimr; April 1st, 2006 at 11:03 AM.
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Old August 18th, 2004, 09:35 PM   #2
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They are lovely!
Strangely enough we have the original one in Poland:



Wang Church was built at the turn of the twelfth century in Vang which accounts for its present name. Vang was a settlement at Lake Vang in southern Norway.



Lake Wang (Vangsmjosi in Norway) set 466 m above sea level surrounded by high mountains where Mount Grindafjellet (1724 m above sea level), their most famous peak used to be a dwelling place for Tindull Grindo, a troll, in the "olden days".
A circle marks a former site of the Wang church.
photo: İ Janusz Moniatowicz


About a thousand similar wooden (stave) churches were built there then, yet till the present day only thirty one such churches survived in Norway, and this one in Karpacz Górny. Our Twin Parish in Hahnenklee, Germany, has also a wooden church built in 1908 according to the Norwegian designs.

In the nineteenth century Wang Church proved too small and in need of costly renovation, and so a decision to sell it was made. The money was needed to pay back a loan taken for the construction of a new one.

Thanks to the efforts of a Dresden-based Norwegian painter, Professor John Christian Dahl, this great architectural experience of the Vikings was bought for the sum of 427 marks by the then king, Frederick William IV. A royal architect completed the working plan of the church building, and the edifice was taken to pieces so as to be shipped, in boxes, to Szczecin in 1841 and from there - to the Royal Museum in Berlin. The King, however, had abandoned the idea of having it reerected on the Peacock Island near Berlin and started seeking another site for the church to render its religious services.

Owing to the involvement of Countess Frederica von Reden of Bukowiec, in the spring of 1842 the church was moved to the Karkonosze Mountains so that it could be of use to the Lutherans living in Karpacz and its surroundings. The church therefore journeyed on barges along the river Odra to be later hauled by nine horse wagons.

The building site for the church was presented by Count Christian Leopold von Schaffgotsch of Cieplice. It is a slope of Czarna Góra (885 metres above sea level), midway between lower Karpacz and Mount Śnieżka.

To provide a few hundred square metres of a building plot necessary for the church, the rectory, the school and the cemetery the rocks were blown up and a six-metre-high retaining wall was constructed.

On August 2, 1842 King Frederick William IV himself laid a cornerstone for the church, and two years later on July 28, 1844 the solemn opening and the consecration of the church took place in the presence of the King, his Consort, Frederick- the Prince of Holland and other distinguished guests.

For the first time the bells were heard ringing from the bell tower of this church whose location is the highest among the Lower Silesian churches. The bells' ringing made it known that from then onwards the church would provide the same service as it had in Norway.

Wang Church followed the best examples of the Scandinavian sacral architecture and is now a unique work of the old Nordic art. Built in the way the Viking longships were, that is without a single nail, it features wooden bolts and dovetails. The church was built from the Norwegian pine rich in resin which reveals unusual endurance.



THE RUNES IN THE WANG CHURCH Runes were the letters of the syllabic alphabet used at the beginning of our era by the people of north and north-west Europe. The letters were mainly carved in stone, metal, bone and wood. They had probably been created beyond the Roman culture. They followed the Latin and Greek alphabets. Among the Scandinavian people they survived as late as the 19th century as the peasant and ornamental script. The word "rune", i. e. a secret, stood for a secret script. In Norway there are about 1,600 rune inscriptions. The runic inscription on the portal of the Wang church had various translations, e. g. "Eindridi badly cut St. Olafs son's little finger." Most probably the inscription reads: "Eindridi carved (the portal), a thin finger, Olaf the Evil's son." It is then an artist's signature. The name of the carver who made the portal was Eindridi; he was called "thin-fingered" ("of artistic fingers"?) and was the son of some Olaf the Evil.
photo: İ Janusz Moniatowicz


The outer door frames, which you have just passed through, draw one's attention to their half-columns decorated with a tangle of dragons and plants. On their capitals mounted are the stylized lions in their symbolic roles of the beasts which keep guard at the gates.

It is most incredible that in those days with such scarce tools available like the ones made from flint, horn or fishbone people were able to so masterly carve the beasts' heads, their legs and furs. Quite unlike other ornaments these are facing outwards.

The age of the southern doorway on the right is revealed by the characteristic lunette which caps it and whose clover shape points to the twelfth century.

In the top corners of both doorways are the carved winged dragons right in the act of tearing apart the horizontally placed figure eight. Such an arrangement may symbolise the eternal and everlasting combat between good and evil.

Across from here, you can see the southern doorway which was carved by Eindridi in the first half of the twelfth century as the runic inscription, placed on the edge of the door frame reveals: "Eindridi carved me to the glory of St Olaf."

The half-columns, which make decorative door frames, depict the Viking warriors' faces, with their forked tongues sticking out. Such tongues represented the passing of knowledge and wisdom onto the following generations. The upper parts of the columns from the twelfth century, carved in the Byzantine style, are also true works of art. The carved figures of animals, plants and mascarons decorate these capitals.

The four columns placed in the middle of the main nave and the ones on its both sides may have been the masts of the Viking long boats. The remaining columns, which are in front of the altar and depict David's victory over Goliath, and the Prophet Daniel in the lions' pit were reconstructed by a remarkable sculptor - Jakub of Janowice. Sill another of his works is the cross made in 1844 from a single oak trunk and the figure of Christ, made from linden wood in 1846.

On both sides of the altar, made in 1980 by Ryszard Zając, standing are the two mounted candelabra. One shows a swan as a symbol of faithfulness, the other - a heart as a symbol of love. The candles in them are lit only during wedding ceremonies. Wang Church is well known as a church of successful marriages.

The font, the Lower Silesian baroque, made around 1740, comes from a dismantled church in Dziećmorowice, near Wałbrzych. The pulpit was made from the wood brought from Norway. The two boards hanging on the walls are used for displaying the numbers of hymns sung during services, and they date back to the year 1904. The church is surrounded with the cloisters which protect it against cold. In the days of old, people used to leave their weapons and fishing nets there. In medieval times they would do penance in there. The sunlight brightens the church interior through 174 little crown-glass windows. On leaving the church we can see some highly characteristic roof ornaments. The roof tops are decorated with pinnacles, i.e., the projections in the shape of gaping dragon mouths which resemble the ornaments characteristic of the Vikings' longships. Thus the Karkonosze Wang Church is an example of how the pagan elements penetrated into Scandinavian Christianity.

A 24-metre-high tower was built of the Silesian granite to shield the little church from sharp gusts of wind blowing off the Śnieżka direction.

Info from: http://www.sponsor.com.pl/wang/
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Old August 19th, 2004, 03:26 AM   #3
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cool. I love the old dark wood, and the ones with the roof decorations.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 01:58 AM   #4
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Nice thread, thanks, Christian.
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Old February 8th, 2005, 04:00 AM   #5
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Amazing structures with excellent craftmanship. A very interesting topic.
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Old March 31st, 2006, 03:14 PM   #6
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wow amazing
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Old March 31st, 2006, 04:40 PM   #7
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Great!!! I was once visiting Bergen in ... I think 93... and was walking from the center through all the commieblock suburbs to the church - only to find it wrapped in plastic with a sign saying it is burned down At least it didn't rain

A great work they did with the restauration
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Old April 1st, 2006, 09:37 AM   #8
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Do you know the reason why a lot of stave churches have survived in Norway?

Most of the towns were made out of wood, and they of course burned down every 100th year so and the church(es) with it. --- Were these churches abandoned or were they originally built away from the rest of the buildings?

Another question that I'd like to ask is; What was the (status)value of stone in Norway? --In Sweden (including Finland) the wooden churches were quickly destroyed when there seemed to be enough resources to build a stone church, no matter how small. Wood came in 'fashion' again only in the 17th century.

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Old April 1st, 2006, 10:04 AM   #9
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(duh!) I also wanted to say;
Great thread! I particularly love the wood carvings which show sings of viking age ornamentation.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 11:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by satama
Do you know the reason why a lot of stave churches have survived in Norway?
I've been thinking of that too. There are only one original church left in the world outside Norway, and we know that Sweden probably had just as many stave churches as Norway, but only one is left, and that one is heavily reconstructed. So the reason might be our wealth status after 1500.

The black death plague ravaged Norway, and Scandinavia harder then mainland Europe. At that time Norway was probably the strongest and most powerful nation in Scandinavia, but after 1350 everything, the economy and the political situation collapsed, and for the next 550 years Norway was ruled by Sweden and Denmark. Norway was extremly poor, actually the poorest country in Europe in 1905.

When the reform came in the 16th century they started to tear down the stave churches and replaced them with newer wooden churches, which we find thousands of in Norway today. But our financial status was poor, so many stave churches was just left to be demolished by nature while some of the stave churches was rebuilt a little into the new white wooden churches.

The stave churches which was not rebuilt, rottened, and was destroyed after some hundred years. But in the 19th century some people started caring for this ancient historic and beautiful churches, so they was able to save some few churches which had not been used for centuries. The nationality was strong in the 19th century, especially been able to have our own constitution, but we was still under Swedish rule. So thats why many started caring for everything which was typically Norwegian, fjords, mountains, stave churches etc.

I guess thats my best answer to your question!

Quote:
Originally Posted by satama
Most of the towns were made out of wood, and they of course burned down every 100th year so and the church(es) with it. --- Were these churches abandoned or were they originally built away from the rest of the buildings?
Yeah, all the towns has burned down several times, probably why there is no stave church left in towns! All the churches we have left is built pretty far from populated places, near a big farm on the countryside usually. The churches we have in the cities, is built of stone, and it seams like they learned to built the churches in the city of stone early, so stave churches was maybe a countryside church.

Quote:
Originally Posted by satama
Another question that I'd like to ask is; What was the (status)value of stone in Norway? --In Sweden (including Finland) the wooden churches were quickly destroyed when there seemed to be enough resources to build a stone church, no matter how small. Wood came in 'fashion' again only in the 17th century.
There is plenty of stone churches in Norway, especially in the cities. The churches on the countryside is mainly built of wood, while the city churches in the cities is built of stone. Nidarosdomen in Trondheim is the largest church in Norway, and was first built of wood in the 11th century, but they quickly rebuilt it in stone in the 12th century. Its the same with many other old churches, Stavanger Domekirke etc.

There is really few stone churches on the countryside in Norway. Thats a place where they have always built churches of wood.

Some exemples of old stone churches below. Most stone churches are after the 16th century, there is only a few left from the medieval ages.

Nidarosdomen:
View photothread here.





Stavanger Domkirke:

Last edited by Ŝróndeimr; April 1st, 2006 at 11:52 AM.
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Old April 1st, 2006, 11:44 AM   #11
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By the way, nice to see this old thread come to live again, and i have just refreshed some of the photos and the information to the stave churches.
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Old December 2nd, 2006, 05:10 AM   #12
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Thx Qazaq for posting all of these pics, and so much info too!
I bet the buildings of the Vikings looked a lot like that...
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Old December 7th, 2006, 03:39 PM   #13
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Old December 7th, 2006, 06:44 PM   #14
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^ Vang Stave church in Poland is a copy of Vang stave church in Vang, Norway. Well, they demolished the Vang Stavechurch in Vang, but the reminding parts of it was brought and rebuilt in Poland, so its almost a original stave church!
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Old December 8th, 2006, 06:06 AM   #15
Marek.kvackaj
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pretty churches they can come from hollywood and shoot here some good fantasy movie:-))
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Old December 8th, 2006, 02:48 PM   #16
kenny_in_blue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wise Fool View Post
Thx Qazaq for posting all of these pics, and so much info too!
I bet the buildings of the Vikings looked a lot like that...
Vikings didnt live in buildings we camped outside around the "eldbrasa".
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