Norway’s oldest Stave Church

 

Photo: Jiri Havran, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Photo: Jiri Havran, Directorate for Cultural Heritage

The ground under the Urnes stave church is sinking, and this national treasure in Sognefjord has begun to sink at its northern end, reports Norway Post.

During the summer of 2008, researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) worked to determine how much the church could be lifted and stabilized without beeing ruined. At the same time, dendrochronologist Terje Thun took tree ring samples from the oldest wood. The samples confirm that the chruch was erected over a longer period in the 1130’s.

At the same time it was shown that a portion of the church,  – including the northern wall, with its spectacular carvings, was actually recycled material from another church that previously stood at the same spot. The youngest of these timbers were felled around year 1070. Based on the wood samples, it is concluded that The Urnes Stave Church is the oldest Norwegian Church that has been dated.

Urnes stave church is exceptional among the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway as regards architecture and style history. The church is best-preserved stave churches.

The wooden church of Urnes stands in the natural setting of Sogn og Fjordane. The church is an example of very skilled craftsmanship and has exceptionally fine wooden carvings. It was once a private church for a powerful high-born family at Urnes. The builders were aware of international trends in architecture, and transferred these trends from stone to wood. The interior of the church is exceptionally richly decorated. Urnes church is protected according to the Cultural Heritage Act.

Urnes stave church is now being restored. The restoration will be finished in 2009. Meanwhile, the visitors of Urnes are offered an exhibition about the church.  

Source: Gemini Spring 2009 / Norway Post / Directorate for Cultural Heritage (Riksantikvaren)

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