Stave churches

Reinli Stave Church

The Reinli Stave Church was built some time during the 14th century. It is the third church at the same location in Reinli. The first references made to a church at this location comes from Olaf Haraldsson who travelled through Valdres in 1023, and also visited Reinli. It is believed that there was a pagan temple at the same location before the first church, some time before 1000. Through radiocarbon dating, logs in the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Reinli, 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

Lomen Stave Church

Lomen stave church was built in the second half of the 12th century. Through dendrochronological dating the church has been dated to 1179, but the first reference in written sources is not until 1325 and 1334, at that time as 'Hvams kirke'. The church was rebuilt and enlarged in 1779. The church is supported by 4 columns, and has three lavishly carved portals, chancel-arches and column capitals. During the last ...
Founded: c. 1179 | Location: Lomen, Norway

Nore Stave Church

Dendrochronological dating of wood samples indicate that Nore stave church was built after 1167. The church was built with galleries, a chancel and cross naves - an architectural style that was unique in Europe during the Middle Ages. This style is called the Nummedals-type. The church also has a central mast, that was originally the support for a tower, mostly likely containing church bells. The walls and ceiling of the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Nore og Uvdal, Norway

Høyjord Stave Church

Høyjord stave church was built in the end of the 11th century. The church was later removed once and rebuilt. Last reconstruction was completed in 1950. The church is also the only stave church which is left in the county of Vestfold.The church is one of two preserved churches having a pillar or post in the middle. In addition tho this central post there are 12 staves, all of which supports the building. Each stave ...
Founded: c. 1190 | Location: Andebu, 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 cemetery of Bremsnes Ch ...
Founded: c. 1470 | Location: Smøla, 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

Hegge Stave Church

The first recorded reference to the Hegge stave church is from 1327. Dendrochronological dating of some of the logs in the church, however, indicates that the church was built around 1216. It is a basilica type church with 8 free-standing interior columns forming an arcade, surrounding a central area with a raised roof. A runic inscription on the church reads: Erling Arnson wrote these runes. The lower story of the bell ...
Founded: c. 1216 | Location: Øystre Slidr, 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

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

Hedared Stave Church

Hedared Stave Church is Sweden's only preserved medieval stave church. For a long time it was assumed Hedared stave church dated to early medieval times because it was built as a stave church. Already at the beginning of the 20th century, the archaeologist and architectural historian Emil Ekhoff argued that the church was considerably later than the stave church in Hemse on Gotland, fragments of which he had found under t ...
Founded: ca. 1500 | Location: Borås, Sweden

Fåvang Stave Church

Fåvang stave church is a reconstruction of parts of other churches, built 1627-1630. The oldest parts can be dated to c. 1150-1250. Because it has been extensively modified, it is not counted amongst Norways 'real' stave churches. The altar and pulpit are of Renaissance style.
Founded: 1627-1630 | Location: Fåvang, Norway

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.