Medieval churches in Norway

St. Olav's Church Ruins

St. Olav"s Church stone church was built before 1150 and probably Telemark"s largest stone church in former times. It had a number of unusual building features, including lektorium and a separate room for earthly values, which today is called 'Mary"s Chapel'. Probably the church was the main church in Grenland, a kind of 'county church' and therefore had the highest status of all churche ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bamble, Norway

Tanum Church

Tanum church was built probably in the 12th century and it has 216 seats. It was restored in 1910-1911 by the architect Haldor Børve. Tanum church containts valuable items, such as baptismal font made of Gotland sandstone from the 1250s and the Renaissance style pulpit made in 1591. The altarpiece was painted by Eilif Peterssen in the 1890s.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Larvik, 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

Rokke Church

Rokke church is a Romanesque stone church built in the 12th century. It was restored and rebuilt in 1886. Several remains of burials under the church floor were found then. Lars Ovesen made the church pulpit and altarpiece in 1685. Rokke church has one Olav Statue from the 1300s and three figures of saints.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Halden, Norway

Balke Church

Balke Church was built around 1170 in Romanesque and early Gothic style. It was enlarged in 1714. The altarpiece from 1526 is unique in Norway. The font dates from 1719 and pulpit from 1822.
Founded: 1170 | Location: Østre Toten, Norway

Slidredomen

Slidredomen is the old principal parish church in Valdres, dating back to the 1100s. The church was mentioned in writing for the first time in a letter from the pope in 1264, and it was then referred to as 'ecclesie Sancte Marie De Slidrum'. It also features the inscription 'Maria' in runic letters. The south-facing main entrance is equipped with medieval fittings in wrought iron and measuring stick. A ...
Founded: c. 1268 | Location: Vestre Slidre, Norway

Rødenes Church

Rødenes church was built in c. 1230 and it underwent an extensive restoration in 1703-1709. It was privately owned from 1729-1849 before moved to the municipality. Altarpiece dates from the 1720s and was given by Chr. Hansen Sarpsborg, who was commander of Basmo fortress.
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Ørje, 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

St. Hallvard's Cathedral

St. Hallvard"s Cathedral (Hallvardskatedralen), the former Oslo Cathedral, was the earliest cathedral in Oslo. The cathedral was built at the height of the Old Town market square Oslo during the early 12th century, and was used as a church until about 1655. Besides being the bishop"s seat and religious center of eastern Norway for about 500 years, the cathedral was the coronation church, royal wedding church, ch ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Oslo, 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

Frogner Old Church

Frogner Old Church was built around 1180 and it is a small stone church with only 90 seats. It was destroyed by fire in 1918. The restoration was completed during next decades.
Founded: 1180 | Location: Sørum, Norway

Sakshaug Old Church

Sakshaug Old Church is one of the oldest churches in Trøndelag, dating back to about 1150. The church was consecrated by Archbishop Eysteinn Erlendsson in 1184 and was decommissioned in 1871 when the new Sakshaug Church was consecrated. The ownership of the church was transferred to the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments in 1873 and was renovated from 1910 to 1958 after having been without a roof ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Inderøy, Norway

Øyestad Church

The Gothic Øyestad Church was built of stone around 1200. The eastern wall was demolished in the 1600s. Øyestad church was destroyed by fire in 1900. It was restored and the interior completely replaced in 1902.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Rykene, Norway

Vereide Church

Vereide Church was originally built in the 1100s and the oldest parts of the present church date back to that time. This is the oldest surviving stone church in the Nordfjord region. The church was extensively remodeled in the 1600s and a few times since then. The present church seats about 460 people.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gloppen, Norway

Mære Church

Mære Church is famous for its medieval roof with heads (human, beast and mythological) projecting from the top of its walls. The stone church likely dates to between 1150 and 1200. This is suggested by stylistic dating of its dedicatory inscription as well as coins dating from the reign of King Sverre (1183-1202) found during excavations. The pagan site buried under the church may possibly be the one referred to in ...
Founded: 1150-1200 | Location: Sparbu, 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

Ranem Church

The white stone Ranem Church was originally constructed in 1187. The altarpiece dates from 1678.
Founded: 1187 | Location: Overhalla, Norway

Hesby Church

Hesby stone church was built around 1250 and it was first time mentioned in written document Diplomatarium Norvegicum in 1309. The large restoration took place in 1959-1960.
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Finnøy, Norway

Logtun Church

The current Logtun Church dates probably from the 16th century, but there has been a church since the 12th century. It was left to decay in the 1860s when the church was completed. The restoration took place in the early 1900s. The altarpiece was made in 1652.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Frosta, Norway

Efteløt Church

Efteløt Church was built in c. 1184 and it was dedicated to Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The large restoration took place in 1876 when the church was moved to Gothic style.
Founded: 1184 | Location: Kongsberg, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Barnenez Cairn

The Cairn of Barnenez is the largest Megalithic mausoleum in Europe. It dates from the early Neolithic Age is considered one of the earliest megalithic monuments in Europe. It is also remarkable for the presence of megalithic art. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the first phase of the monument was erected between 4850 and 4250 BC, and the second phase between 4450 and 4000 BC. Pottery found in and around the monument indicates that it underwent a period of reuse in the Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BC.

The cairn was first mapped in 1807, in the context of the Napoleonic cadaster. Its first scientific recognition took place in the context of an academic congress in Morlaix in 1850, when it was classified as a tumulus. Privately owned until the 1950s, the cairn was used as a quarry for paving stones. This activity, which threatened to destroy the monument, was only halted after the discovery of several of its chambers in the 1950s. The local community then took control of the site. The cairn was restored between 1954 and 1968. At the same time, vegetation was removed from the mound and systematic excavation took place in and around the monument.

Today, the Barnenez cairn is 72 m long, up to 25 m wide and over 8 m high. It is built of 13,000 to 14,000 tons of stone. It contains 11 chambers entered by separate passages. The mound has steep facades and a stepped profile. Several internal walls either represent earlier facades or served the stability of the structure. The cairn consists of relatively small blocks of stone, with only the chambers being truly megalithic in character. The monument overlooks the Bay of Morlaix, probably a fertile coastal plain at the time of its erection.

Engraved symbols occur in several of the chambers and passages. They depict bows, axes, wave symbols or snakes and a repeated U-shaped sign. One of the carved slabs is in secondary use was originally part of a different structure, an interesting parallel to the situation in several other such monuments, including Gavrinis. The symbols on the engraved blocks resemble those found in other megalithic monuments in Brittany; in broader terms they belong to the cultural phenomenon described as megalithic art. One of the recurring symbols is sometimes interpreted as an anthropomorphic depiction (the so-called \'Dolmen Goddess\').

An exhibition in the modern entrance building explains the results of scientific excavation and displays some objects from the site.