Medieval churches in Norway

Sande Church

Sande Church was built in Romanesque style between 1066-1093. The baptismal font dates from the 1100s.
Founded: 1066-1093 | Location: Sande i Vestfold, Norway

Skjeberg Church

Skjeberg church was built around 1100 and the Gothic entrance portal was added later. The Romanesque baptismal font is on of the finest in Norway with reliefs depicting Christ with Apostles.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Skjeberg, Norway

Skiptvet Church

Skiptvet church is a medieval stone church built around 1150-1200. It was restored and expanded after damaged by fire in 1762. The pulpit and altarpiece were also added then.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Skiptvet, Norway

Steigen Church

The Steigen stone church was originally built around the year 1250, and it has since been renovated and expanded several times. In the 17th century the church was damaged several times by storms and lightning. The interior was changed in the late 1800s when it was restored. The chandelier dates from 1684. Between 1963-1965 the church was restored to the medieval appearance. The present church seats about 400 people.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Steigen, Norway

Lørenskog Church

Lørenskog Church was probably built in 1150-1250. There is a sculpture of St. Lawrence from the 1100s. The altarpiece dates from 1647 and pulpit from 1658.
Founded: 1150-1250 | Location: Lørenskog, Norway

Old Edøy Church

Old Edøy Church was built around the year 1190. It has had numerous renovations over the years to enlarge it and repair it. After several hundred years of use, it was too small and old to continue as the main church for the parish, so it was decided to build a new Edøy Church. The new church would be built to the north, on the island of Smøla instead of the more isolated location of the old church on the small island o ...
Founded: 1190 | Location: Smøla, Norway

Tingvoll Church

Tingvoll Church is one of the few remaining old stone churches that was built in Norway. There is some uncertainty as to when it was actually constructed, but records indicate it was between 1150 and 1200. The church is 32 metres long and the steeple and spire (added in 1787) is 36 metres tall. The 1.8-metre thick walls have corridors inside, both on the south side and on the north side. The corridors lead to steep stairs ...
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Tingvoll, Norway

Røyken Church

The first written record of the Røyken Church is in Eysteinn Erlendsson"s 'Red Book' in 1392. The church was however built already in 1229. It has a rectangular nave with stone walls that are around 2 meters thick. The altarpiece dates from the 1600s.
Founded: 1229 | Location: Røyken, Norway

Holdhus Church

Holdhus Church was originally built in 1306 and enlarged in 1725 and 1836. The most valuable item in the church is a Madonna sculpture, made of limestone in 1450s. The pulpit dates from 1570.
Founded: 1306 | Location: Eikelandsosen, Norway

Vassås Church

Vassås Church was built around 1200 and enlarged in 1846.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Hof, Norway

Nykirke

Nykirke ('new church') was built around 1200. It was restored in 1880, 1848 and 1953.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Nykirke, Norway

Skaun Church

Skaun Church was built in 1183. There are some medieval frescoes survived. The pulpit was designed by Ole Bildsnider in 1665. The Baroque altarpiece dates from 1773.
Founded: 1183 | Location: Skaun, Norway

Old Gildeskål Church

Old Gildeskål stone church was built around the year 1130. In 1851, a new law was passed that said that all rural churches had to be able to fit at least 30% of the parish members in the church building. Since this church could only seat about 130 people, it was too small, therefore a new church had to be built for the parish. It was decided that the new church would be built on the same site, just west of the old church ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Gildeskål, Norway

Søndeled Church

Søndeled Church was built around 1150 and restored in 1752, 1768 and 1921-1924. In 1752 it was bought by locals, enlarged and the tower was erected. The altar was made by Ole Nielsen Weierholt in 1788. The old altarpiece painting from c. 1650 is still located in the nave. The pulpit was carved in the 1800s.
Founded: 1150 | Location: Søndeled, Norway

Dybvåg Church

Dypvåg Church dates from the early 1200s. The choir was demolished and reconstructed in the 1700s and the major restoration took place in 1921. The interior is rich and well-preserved. The font is original from c. 1200.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Tvedestrand, 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

Vanse Church

Vanse Church is probably one of the oldest churches in Norway; it originates most likely from 1037. In 1848 it was extended to become a cross church, and visiting church musicians often refer to it as a cathedral. The church was struck by fire in 1872, but was completely restored in 1875. The altarpiece was painted in 1866 by G. H. Lammers. The church is built of stone with chalk plaster, and with its 1100 seats, it is th ...
Founded: 1037 | Location: Vanse, Norway

Hobøl Church

Hobøl Church is considered to be one of Norway's best preserved medieval churches. The church was built in granite in Romanesque style at the end of the 12th century (around 1175). The baptismal font with granite basin and steatite base dates from medieval times and is probably as old as the church itself. The altarpiece dates from c. 1600 and pulpit was a gift from Adrian Busch in 1602 and is made ​​by Nicolaus Petr ...
Founded: c. 1175 | Location: Hobøl, Norway

Hvaler Church

Hvaler church is probably one of the oldest in Norway. According carbon dating methods on wood samples analyzed in 1960 it was originally built between 920 and 1080 AD. The current church nave dates mainly from the 12-13th centuries. Archeologists carried out extensive excavations during the restoration from 1953 to 1956. They discoverede there was a fireplace under the foundations dating from the age between 120 BC and 8 ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Skjærhalden, Norway

Ørland Church

Ørland Church was built in 1342 out of stone. The 60cm thick walls are whitewashed stone. None of the original furnishings remain, but the walls are original.
Founded: 1342 | Location: Ørland, 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.