What is a stavechurch?

A medieval wooden church constructed using the stave technique, where the weight of the building is carried on wooden columns which may be free-standing within the church or built into the walls. They rest on stone bases to protect them from rot, which is why they have managed to survive for so many hundreds of years.

The original medieval ones only survive in Norway, apart from the Vang church which now lives in Poland. Fewer than 30 survive, although there would once have been over a thousand. Some were replaced by the more prestigious stone; others were too small after the introduction of pews in the Reformation, so were either enlarged to within an inch of their lives (and the sad loss of much medieval graffiti) or were replaced by log built wooden churches.

Borgund is the least altered and its iconic look has been copied in the restoration of several others:

Borgund Stavechurch

It also has the most runic graffiti, which is not a co-incidence.

They don’t all look like that. This is Hedalen:

Hedalen Stavechurch

There are other types as well, please check out the gallery and the links to see more.



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