Medieval churches in Norway

Undredal Stave Church

Undredal Stave Church was built in the middle of the 12th century. The church has been moved from different locations and reconstructed a few times. Around 1850 the building was extended to the west with the addition of a clock tower and porch. In 1913 there were plans to dismantle the church and move it to a museum in Kaupanger, but this never happened. Instead it was reconstructed in 1984 and under extensive maintenance ...
Founded: c. 1147 | Location: Undredal, Norway

Kvernes Stave Church

From ancient times Kvernes has been of great religious and cultural importance at Nordmøre. The excavation of a white phallus stone, a sacred symbol of fertility, supports this fact. The stave church was built around year 1300 and has a rather large main nave (16×7,5 m) with external diagonal props supporting the walls. Several repairs/reconstructions have been carried out. In 1633 the stave-built chancelwas ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Averøy, Norway

Trondenes Church

Trondenes Church is the northernmost medieval stone church of Norway. Though frequently mentioned as a 13th-century church, dating based on dendrochronology places its completion shortly after 1434. Compared to the other ten north Norwegian medieval stone churches, Trondenes church is well preserved and the exterior is close to the original state. The nave is 22.6 metres long and the chancel is 13.5 metres, making it one ...
Founded: c. 1434 | Location: Harstad, Norway

Eidsborg Stave Church

Eidsborg Stave Church is one of the best preserved Norwegian stave churches. The church was probably built between 1250-1300. The church is dedicated to the traveller"s patron, St. Nicholas of Bari. It was partly reconstructed in the 19th century. The chorus was demolished in 1826. The new choir dates to the period 1845-50. The reconstruction work did not affect the structure or the shape of the church. It was restor ...
Founded: 1250-1300 | Location: Eidsborg, Norway

Utstein Abbey

Utstein Abbey is Norway's best-preserved medieval monastery. The abbey, dedicated to Saint Laurence, was founded in its present location during the reign of King Magnus VI of Norway (1263–1280). It was a house of Augustinian Canons. It appears however that this community was the one previously established as St. Olav's Abbey, Stavanger, one of the earliest Augustinian monasteries in Norway if not the very earliest: the ...
Founded: 1263-1280 | Location: Mosterøy, Norway

Sister Churches

There are two adjacent medieval churches in Gran called as Søsterkirkene, the sister churches. According to local folklore, the two churches were commissioned by two sisters who had fallen out and therefore would not be seen in the same church. It is, however, not uncommon for medieval churches with different functions to be built close to one another. The smaller one, dedicated to St. Mary, was built probably before 11 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gran, Norway

Ringebu Stave Church

Ringebu Stave Church was built in the first half of the 13th century. The church is first mentioned in 1270, although it can be older. It was rebuilt into a cruciform church around 1630 by master-builder Werner Olsen and in 1631 received its characteristic red tower. Of the original church only the nave remains, with free-standing posts in the inner area.Later restoration brought it back a bit closer to its original shape ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Ringebu, Norway

St. Clement's Church Ruins

St. Clement"s Church or Klemet"s Church was one of the Roman Catholic parish churches of the old Oslo. It was a stone church with a tower, and it was one of the very few churches we know with the double-nave floor plan. Along the middle axis of the choir there were three powerful pillars that held the roof. The church went out of use after the Protestant Reformation, and expect it rather quickly was in ruins. T ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Oslo, Norway

Kinsarvik Church

Kinsarvik Church is the oldest stone church in the whole Hardanger region, and at one time, it was one of the four main churches for all of Hordaland county. The present church seats about 240 people. The first wooden church in all of Hardanger was built on this site around the year 1050. It was most likely a wooden church which was replaced by the present stone church around the year 1160. Remains of the previous church ...
Founded: 1160 | Location: Kinsarvik, Norway

Alstahaug Church

Alstahaug Church built in the 1100s and it seats about 270 people. It was enlarged in 1865 and restored in 1960. The altarpiece dates from 17th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Alstahaug, Norway

Avaldsnes Church

Before the current Avaldsnes church was constructed, there was a wooden church on the same site. That church is assumed to have been built by Olav Trygvason, and it is possible that the present stone church is built around this church originally. The current church has been a landmark for seafarers passing through the strait of Karmsund for 750 years. King Håkon IV Håkonsson gave permission to build a church around the ...
Founded: 1320 | Location: Avaldsnes, Norway

Rødven Stave Church

According to a notice board outside the church, the nave and south porch of the Rødven Stave Church date from the 14th century, the crucifix dates from the 13th century and the pulpit from 1712. Inside are an ornately carved crucifix and pulpit. The church is a Møre-type stave church due to its structure and the exterior support posts that brace the walls. During an archeological survey in 1962-1963, marks were found fr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Eidsbygda, Norway

St. Margaret's Church

St. Margaret"s Church was a stone church built in the 13th century. It is now a ruin, but the ruin underwent a restoration in 1934, and is today the best preserved medieval buildings next to the Old Aker Church. The church is named after Margaret of Antioch.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oslo, Norway

Uvdal Stave Church

Uvdal Stave Church was originally constructed just after the year 1168, which we know through dendrochronological dating of the pine tree used during the construction. The logs were not completely dry when the construction took place. The church was made on top of the remains of previous church on the site, thought to have been made with the use of imbedded corner column technology at the beginning of the 11th century. Th ...
Founded: 1168 | Location: Nore og Uvdal, Norway

Torpo Stave Church

Built in 1192, the Torpo stave church is the oldest building within the valley and traditional district of Hallingdal. The church was dedicated to Saint Margareta. The stave church was purchased by the municipality in 1875. It was initially planned to expand it with an annex to the east, but in 1879 it was decided instead to modernize the interior with new ceiling and gallery. Following protest from the Ancient Monuments ...
Founded: 1192 | Location: Ål, Norway

Bø Old Church

Bø old church was built between 1150 and 1180 in Romanesque style. The porch was added in the 1600s. There is a triumph crucifix from the 13th century, but the other interior dates mainly from the Renaissance age after Reformation.
Founded: 1150-1180 | Location: Bø i Telemark, Norway

Kaupanger Stave Church

Kaupanger Stave Church is the largest stave church in Sogn og Fjordane. 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. It is still in use as a parish church, having been in use continuously since its erection. Kaupanger Stave Church wa ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Kaupanger, Norway

Haltdalen Stave Church

Haltdalen Stave Church was originally located in Haltdalen, but today it is on display at the Sverresborg museum in Trondheim. The church was probably built in the 1170s. The church on display is a rebuilt version of two churches from Ålen and Haltdalen. The western wall and the portal is from the old Ålen church. This is a single-nave stave church of the east Scandinavian-style, and it is the only one that is ...
Founded: 1170s | Location: Trondheim, Norway

Vågå Stave Church

Vågå Stave Church, which was constructed around 1150, is one of the older stave churches in Norway. It was originally dedicated to St. Peter. The prior rectory was formerly called Ullinsyn. The older name of the site may show that even in pagan times, the location had been in use for worship. The church was converted to a cruciform church in 1626–28. Only the carved portals and decorative wall planks su ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Vågå, Norway

Røldal Stave Church

Røldal Stave Church was probably built between 1200-1250. The church has a rectangular-shaped nave and chancel. The crucifix dates from about 1250. The altarpiece by German painter Gottfried Hendtzchell from Wroclaw in Silesia dates from 1629. The baptismal font is made of soapstone between 1200-1250. Bergen Museum holds a variety of building components and other artifacts from the medieval church. These include alter fr ...
Founded: 1200-1250 | Location: Odda, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kirkjubøargarður

Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.

The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.

Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.

The farm holds sheep, cattle and some horses. It is possible to get a coffee here and buy fresh mutton and beef directly from the farmer. In the winter season there is also hare hunting for the locals. Groups can rent the roykstovan for festivities and will be served original Faroese cuisine.

Other famous buildings directly by the farmhouse are the Magnus Cathedral and the Saint Olav"s Church, which also date back to the mediaeval period. All three together represent the Faroe Island"s most interesting historical site.