Medieval churches in 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

Spangereid Church

Spangereid church is a beautiful medieval church from c. 1100. The church was originally a Romanesque long church, and the oldest part is made of stone. In the 1830s the church was modified and extended, which means that the current structure is a cruciform church.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Lindesnes, Norway

Garmo Stave Church

Garmo stave church originally came from Garmo in Lom in Oppland county. The church is mentioned for the first time in 1363 AD, but is for sure much older, probably built in approximately 1190-1225 AD or even some earlier. It was built on the site of a previous church believed to have been built in 1021 by a Viking chieftain. The church consists of 17th and 18th century inventory with a pulpit from Romsdalen. In 1730, it w ...
Founded: 1190-1225 | Location: Lillehammer, 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

Stiklestad Church

Stiklestad Church was built at the site of the Battle of Stiklestad and completed in 1180. During the battle in 1030, St. Olaf received three severe wounds—in the knee, in the neck, and the final mortal blow through the heart—and died leaning against a large stone. The church building is assumed to have been erected on the exact spot where St. Olaf was killed during that battle and that stone is supposedly sti ...
Founded: 1180 | Location: Verdal, Norway

Rollag Stave Church

Rollag Stave Church was probably originally built in second half of the 12th century, though not much is left of the original church. Originally, the church has been a simple church with a rectangular nave. It was first mentioned in written sources in 1425. It was rebuilt around 1660 into a cruciform church. Around 1760, an additional lining wall was placed on top of the structure and the church was extended to the west.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Rollag, Norway

Bønsnes Church

Bønsnes Church is a small rectangle-shaped church from the built in the late 1200s. The medieval church was abandoned in the 16th and 17th centirues, but the restoration began in 1680 and used again as a parish church since 1727. The tower was erected in 1862. Inside Bønsnes Church there is a preserved sculpture of the Virgin Mary with child from the 1200s, and a crucifix from the late 1400s. The pulpit in Bønsnes Chu ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hole, Norway

Botne Church

Botne church was built originally in the 13th century and is dedicated to St. Nicholas. It was expanded in 1865 and restored in 1947. The Renaissance and Baroque style altarpiece dates from 1664.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Holmestrand, Norway

Old Veøy Church

The Old Veøy stone church was built around the year 1200. The church was located on Veøya due to the importance of the great Romsdalsfjorden during the Viking Age. The church was used for centuries until 1901 when a royal decree was handed down to discontinue its active use. The church continued to be used until 1907 when the new Veøy Church was built on the mainland. The new church was located there ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Molde, 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 ...
Founded: 1263-1280 | Location: Mosterøy, Norway

Grip Stave Church

Grip Stave Church is one of Norway"s smallest churches (it is only 12m long and 6,5m wide). The church was built in about 1470 at the island"s highest point. The church is of the Møre type, being structurally similar to the larger Kvernes and Rødven stave churches. Because of the barren nature of the island, there is no cemetery on the church grounds, and bodies had to be buried elsewhere, in the c ...
Founded: c. 1470 | Location: Smøla, Norway

Sørbø Church

Sørbø Church was built around 1130. It had a tower in the Middle Ages, but it was demolished in 1883-1884.
Founded: 1130 | Location: Rennesøy, 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

Hoff Church

Hoff stone church was built in the 12th century. Hoff church is similar in construction to the old cathedrals at Hamar, Nikolai Church in Gran, Old Aker Church, and Ringsaker Church. The joint model for these churches was the historic Hallvards Cathedral, the main church of medieval Oslo. After 1658, Hallvards Cathedral was demolished with only ruins left of the former cathedral in Oslo. Hoff stone church was built of li ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Østre Toten, Norway

Våle Church

Våle church was built around the year 1190 probably by the craftsmen from Denmark and Germany. It represents the Romanesque style with round arches in windows and portals. The two major restorations were made in 1683 and 1747. The baptismal font is made of Gotland limestone in Middle Ages. The altarpiece dates from 1650.
Founded: 1190 | Location: Våle, Norway

Kviteseid Old Church

Kviteseid old church dates from c. 1260 and it has about 200 seats. The church is built in the Romanesque style. Dendrochronological analysis have revealed there may have been a wooden church already in the 1100s. The church has a special roof and ceiling with 20 fields painted by Thomas Blixus in 1714. The altarpiece dates from 1732. The church was restored in 1929 and 1969.
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: Kviteseid, Norway

Flesberg Stave Church

Flesberg stave church was probably built around 1200. The first written reference to the church is from 1359. The church was originally a single nave church with four free-standing internal posts bearing a raised central roof, surrounded by an ambulatory or aisles on all four sides. It had a narrower chancel, also with a raised central roof, and a semicircular apse. It was surrounded by a gallery loosely connected to the ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Flesberg, Norway

Hustad Church

Hustad Church was built in the mid-1100s. It is a preserved but no longer used as a regular parish church. Some unique aspects of this small church is that most of the interior items such as the pews are original, and the cemetery is surrounded by a wooden fence, the only such preserved fence in all of Trøndelag.
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Inderøy, Norway

Tromøy Church

Tromøy church was originally a Romanesque stone church built around 1150. The church was reconstructed to a cruciform church between 1748-1758, and today this fabulous church is one of Arendal's oldest sights. The church is an old seamark, and due to the unsheltered location, the church is without a tower. The interior of Tromøy church is beautiful. There are wood carvings and painted interior from the 1750s, restored i ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Færvik, Norway

Ulnes Church

Ulnes Church is a stone church built around 1265, and was first time mentioned in documents in 1307. The choir comprises a very old baptismal font cover. A female figure from the 13th or 14th century is displayed in a glass case in the entrance hall. This is one half of a figure illustrating the meeting between Mary and Elisabeth. The church used to have an altar front from the period 1325-1350, showing St. Margareth, St. ...
Founded: c. 1265 | Location: Nord-Aurdal, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.