Medieval churches in Norway

Tingelstad Old Church

Tingelstad Old Church is a Romanesque stone church in Gran. Dendrochronological dating shows that parts of the timber within the church were felled between 1219-1220. The original name for this church was 'St. Petri Church', although presently it is called Tingelstad old church (Tingelstad gamle kirke) as it was replaced by a new church in 1866. The congregation also had a stave church (Grindaker stave church), ...
Founded: c. 1219 | Location: Gran, Norway

Talgje Church

Talgje church dates probably from the mid-1100s and is built in the Romanesque-Norman style. It is believed that it was built by stonemasons from Stavanger Cathedral. The church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary according a papal letter from 1355. The stone altar is the only remaining item from the Middle Ages. The Renaissance style altarpiece and pulpit date from 1620 and they were later painted by Gotfried Hentzschel in ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Talgje, Norway

Høre Stave Church

Høre stave church was built in 1180 and rebuilt around 1820. It is the second church on this location, the previous church was a post church (a church with earth-bound posts standing directly on the ground). It is dated through a runic inscription to 1180, and through dendrochronology to 1179. There are a number of graves under the church, including those of children. A runic inscription upon the pulpit reads: The ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Vang, Norway

Øye Stave Church

Øye stave church is a triple nave stave church and dates from the second half of the 12th century. The church was situated next to the lake Vangsmjøse in Øye. Here, however, the river Rødøla would flood almost every spring and, corpses would be flushed out of their graves. As a result the church was moved, this time to a location further away from the river. In 1747 the church was torn d ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vang, Norway

Sem Church

Sem Church was built in the 1100s as a parish church for the royal Sem Manor (Sem hovedgård). It has been restored and altered several times, 1690, 1770, 1924, 1955 and 1959. Near the church is a small burial chapel Det wedelske gravkapell for the noble family of Jarlsberg Manor. The pulpit dates from 1592 and altar from the 17th century.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tønsberg, Norway

Bodin Church

Bodin Church was built around the year 1240 and was enlarged in 1785 with a transept. In 1894, the entire section of the medieval church was torn down and rebuilt in the same style. The church has a stone altar from the 1300s and some wooden sculptures from the late 1400s until the early 1500s. The church is characterized today by the interior from the 1600s and 1700s. The altarpiece is from 1670, the pulpit from the 1600 ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Bodø, Norway

Romnes Church

Romnes church was probably built at the end of the 12th century or the beginning of the 13th century, and was dedicated to St. Lawrence. The interior of the church is from the period after the reformation (1735). Altarpiece, pulpit, font, candlesticks etc. were given to the church by private families in the period 1700-1760. he wooden fence that earlier surrounded the church and cemetery, was in 1931-32 replaced by the s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nome, Norway

Rygge Church

Rygge church is a medieval stone church built in the 12th century. The church is one of Østfold's largest, richest adorned and best preserved medieval church in the region.
Founded: c. 1170 | Location: Rygge, Norway

Trøgstad Church

Trøgstad Church was probably built in c. 1250, but is not mentioned in written sources before 1343. The tower was erected in c. 1620 and replaced with a new one in 1700. In 1904 the church was enlarged and remodeled, west wall and porch were demolished and the choir extended.
Founded: c.1250 | Location: Trøgstad, Norway

Byneset Church

Byneset Church is a medieval church consecrated to the saint Michael. The year consecration is not exactly known, but it is assumed that it was about 1180. The same mason signatures are also found at the Nidaros Cathedral, indicating that the same masons were used in the construction of both churches. The church is built in a Romanesque style and it is a stone 'long church'. The tower was built around 1650. In 1656, a 'we ...
Founded: c. 1180 | Location: Spongdal, Norway

Dale Church

Dale stone church was built around 1220-1250 and restored in 1600s. The architecture is Gothic and the church contains frescoes dating from the 15th century. The rare pine-made altarpiece dates from the 13th or 14th century. There are also wooden sculptures of St. Olaf from the building time.
Founded: 1220-1250 | Location: Luster, Norway

Moster Old Church

According to the Icelandic recorder of sagas, Snorre, Olav Trygvason docked at Moster in 995 following his voyage across the North Sea from England, in order to become king of Norway. Here he celebrated mass and founded a Church, and Saint Olav and his bishops held Ting (court) here in the year 1024. Moster Church is thought to be the Norwegian village Church with the longest antiquarian history. In 1874 the Society of Hi ...
Founded: c. 1024 | Location: Mosterhamn, Norway

Tanum Church

Tanum church was probably built between 1100-1130 and enlarged in the early 1700s. The restoration took place in 1900s. In 1674, the Krefting family built a sacristy with burial chambers beneath it on the north side of the chancel. However, this soon became too small, and in 1713 a larger burial chapel was built on the north side of the church, wall to wall with the sacristy. In total, around 40 members of the family were ...
Founded: 1100-1130 | Location: Bærum, Norway

Kråkstad Church

Kråkstad Church was built around 1150, but it has been enlarged and restored several times (in 1691, 1801 and 1882). It was destroyed by lightning in 1801 and the interior was totally replaced in the restoration. The near parsonage dates from 1771.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Ski, Norway

Follebu Church

Follebu Church was built in Gothic style between 1260 and 1300 and it was first time documented in 1305. The sacristy was added in 1868 and porch in 1872. There is a medieval stone font and crucifix, altarpiece dates from 1743 and pulpit from 1770.
Founded: 1260-1300 | Location: Follebu, Norway

Orre Old Church

Orre Old Church was built in c. 1250. It was a parish church until 1950, when the new church was completed.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Orre, Norway

Gjerpen Church

Gjerpen church is one of the oldest churches in Norway. It is believed the church was consecrated 28 May 1153 to the apostles Peter and Paul. The church represents the Romanesque style with a cruciform plan after the later additions. The church was extended in 1781 and 1871. The new interior was made by Emanuel Vigeland (1875-1948), this includes the mosaic 'Den bortkomne sønns hjemkomst', glasspaintings, ...
Founded: c. 1153 | Location: Skien, Norway

Nøtterøy Church

Nøtterøy Church is a cross-formed medieval stone church. It was built in the end of the 12th century and first time mentioned in papal letter in 1323. The altarpiece was added in the 18th century and it is painted by Jacob Lindegard. There are stone reliefs in the church wall, which probably date from the original church.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nøtterøy, Norway

Hedal Stave Church

The first reference to the Hedal Stave Church is from 1327. The original church was a much smaller single nave church built second half of 12th century. The west entrance remains from the original church. The front portal is one of the oldest, most richly ornamented and among the most beautiful in the whole country. It takes the form of three winged dragons, one on each side of the arch and pilasters of the entrance and o ...
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Sør-Aurdal, Norway

Løten Church

Løten Church is a stone church probably built around 1200. It was latest rebuilt in 1873. The font dates from 1815 and pulpit from 1873. The altarpiece was donated to the church in 1873.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Løten, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.