Stave Church (Stavkirkje)

 

Image: The Prayer Foundation logo (with white Celtic cross on a green shield). Stave Church: Borgund, Norway

Photo: "Skellig Michael" Copyright Irish Tourist Board.

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."                     Borgund Stave Church in Norway, built in the late 1100's.  When the Vikings became Christians, they built Churches like this one, over 1,000 of them. ____________________________________________________________

The Viking Era lasted from 795 A.D. - 1066 A.D., and was followed by an "Era of Stave Churches" as the Scandinavian people gradually converted to Christianity.

The first Viking attack outside of Scandinavia was against the monastery at Lindisfarne in 795 A.D.  

The era of the Norse raiders ended with the defeat of the invasion of northern England attempted by King Harold Hardraada of Norway at the battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.  The victor was the English King, who also happened to be named Harold.  

Just three weeks later, William the Conqueror launched his own Norman invasion of England (the Normans were descendants of Norwegian Vikings who had settled in Normandy) across the English Channel from Normandy to the south, and secured a victory at the Battle of Hastings, during which the English King Harold was killed.  

After this, the Scandinavian people of what is now Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland (and at the time, also those then living in Greenland) were gradually converted to Christianity, and "Viking" raids ceased. _____________________________________________________

The majority of existing stave churches are found in Norway, but related church types were once common all over northwestern Europe.

Borgund stave church (Borgund stavkyrkje) is a stave church located in Borgund, Laerdal, Sogn, Norway.  It is classified as a triple nave stave church of the so-called Sogn-type.  This is the best preserved of Norway's 28 extant stave churches.  It was probably built in the end of the 12th century, and has not changed structure or had a major reconstruction since that date.

Most striking and odd to modern Christian eyes are the four dragon's heads, like those used on the prows of the old Viking ships---these were placed on the highest roof-peaks to serve the same function as the gargoyles on medieval Cathedrals---to ward off evil spirits.  It should be noted that many more Christian crosses than dragon's heads adorn the peaks of the church roof.

Photo: Interior view, main floor, showing portal carvings, of the Borgund Stave Church replica, known as "The Chapel in the Hills", which is located in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Interior view, main floor and altar, and showing entrance portal carvings.

A stave church is built around four central giant upright logs (staves, pillars) with other upright logs used additionally throughout.

A stave church is a medieval wooden church with a post and beam construction related to timber framing.  The wall frames are filled with vertical planks.  The load-bearing posts (stafr in Old Norse) have lent their name to the building technique.  Related church types are post churches, and churches with palisade walls.

A stave church is built around four central giant upright logs (staves, pillars) with other upright logs used additionally throughout (see: "Floorplan of the Borgund Stave Church", higher in the column to the right on this page).

The majority of existing stave churches are found in Norway, but related church types were once common all over northwestern Europe.  

Photo: of a portion of the upper interior of the replica of the Borgund Stave church, known as "The Chapel in the Hills", which is located in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Portion of upper interior view, showing St. Andrews Cross bracings.

...a beautiful replica in Rapid city, South Dakota.

There is a breath-takingly beautiful replica of the Borgund Stave Church, which is called "The Chapel in the Hills" located in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the Black Hills area.  It is an absolute "must-see" if you are in the area.  Some of The Prayer Foundation Monks have visited it five or six times so far.

Photo: of our actual Celtic Cross Shield (TM).  The Prayer Foundation Logo and Trademark.  Phot Copyright 2007 S.G.P.  All Rights Reserved. ____________________________________________________________

Sources: Wikipedia - "Borgund Stave Church"; "Stave Church" ____________________________________________________________.

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Photo of Skellig Michael Copyright Irish Tourist Board.

(Photo of Borgund Stave Church, from Wikipedia).  All else, Copyright 2007 S.G.P. All rights reserved.

    

    

Image: artist's rendering of the interior of a Stave Church. Artist's rendering of the interior of a Stave Church.

Image: Floorplan of Borgund Stave Church. Floorplan of the Borgund Stave Church, depicting the lower frame.