The current Roma church was preceded by a considerably smaller, Romanesque church. Some fragments from this church have been re-used and incorporated in the façade of the later church. The still extant sacristy is also a remnant of this earlier church.
The earlier church was torn down and successively replaced with Gothic style building between 1215 and 1255. Dendrochronological examinations have shown that the latest additions were made in 1280. The nave and choir seem to have been erected during a single period of construction, possibly with the exception for the westernmost part of the nave, which is slightly different in style. A tower was evidently planned for the church but never executed. Influences for the somewhat unusual architecture may have come from nearby Roma Abbey and thus the traditions of Cistercian architecture. The church has remained largely unaltered since the Middle Ages. The large western rose window was however added in the 1880s.
The church seems to have had a special function. It was built close to the location of the thing of all of Gotland, and not far from a Cistercian monastery, Roma Abbey. Unlike a regular church, it had five entrances (instead of three) and its architecture differs from other churches on Gotland. The likeness of the church with that of the Dominicans in Visby (now ruined) is noticeable. There is therefore reason to believe that the church may have been used by the Dominicans, possibly to preach for crusades against non-Christians in what is today the Baltic states.
The interior is characterised by the renovation in Neo-Gothic style from 1902. The interior is relatively dark, and few medieval furnishings survive. The altarpiece and the pews date from 1902. An older altarpiece has been transferred to one of the nave walls; it dates from 1656. A few medieval tombstones are displayed in the church, and the baptismal font is also medieval. Dating from the 13th century, it has no equivalents on Gotland but has more in common with baptismal fonts from Småland and Östergötland from the time.
In the cemetery, there is a bell tower in which three bells hang. Before 1929, these bells belonged to the Swedish-speaking minority village of Gammalsvenskby in Ukraine.References:
Stavanger Cathedral is Norway's oldest cathedral. Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, is said to have started construction of the Cathedral around 1100. It was finished around 1150, and the city of Stavanger counts 1125 as its year of foundation. The Cathedral was consecrated to Swithin as its patron saint. Saint Swithun was an early Bishop of Winchester and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. Stavanger was ravaged by fire in 1272, and the Cathedral suffered heavy damage. It was rebuilt under bishop Arne, and the Romanesque Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic style.
In 1682, king Christian V decided to move Stavanger's episcopal seat to Kristiansand. However, on Stavanger's 800th anniversary in 1925, king Haakon VII instated Jacob Christian Petersen as Stavanger's first bishop in nearly 250 years.During a renovation in the 1860s, the Cathedral's exterior and interior was considerably altered. The stone walls were plastered, and the Cathedral lost much of its medieval looks. A major restoration led by Gerhard Fischer in 1939-1964 partly reversed those changes. The latest major restoration of the Cathedral was conducted in 1999. Andrew Lawrenceson Smith is famous for his works here.