This church is located at Borgund in Lærdal beside the Sognefjord and is the world’s best preserved stave church.
These medieval wooden Christian church buildings were once common in north-western Europe. It is believed, that at one point, there were between 750 and 1000 stave churches in Norway. Today there are only 28 remaining. In the Middle Ages, when people in Europe were building great cathedrals in stone, Norway developed similar construction techniques with timber. Norway had a very long tradition of wood construction for buildings, art and the production of ships. The roof structure is essentially an inverted ship hull.
Come On In
The decoration of stave churches is a fascinating blend of Christianity and Viking era symbols with several runic inscriptions on the church walls and the distinctive “Dragon’s Heads”, similar to those found on Viking ships, jutting out from the gable peaks. The main doorway has vine-scrolls on the pilasters and serpents and dragons on the side panels and lintel.
The timbers used to construct this church were felled in the year 1180. There are two factors that have accounted for the church’s longevity, it is constructed entirely on a stone foundation so that none of the wood touches the ground and also the timbers were “seasoned on the root” which draws the tar to the surface thereby preserving the wood beneath.
More Useless But Interesting Facts
St. Andrew’s Cross:
The diagonal cross-braces are named after St. Andrew who was crucified on a diagonal cross, supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. Who knows? But one thing is clear, the whole idea captured people’s imagination. The symbol has been used on the flags of Scotland, England, Grenada, Jersey, Logrono, Vitoria, Amsterdam, Breda, Potchefstroom, Kateijk, Valdivia, Tenerife, Galicia, Jamaica, Burgundy, the Imperial Russian Navy, the state flags of Florida and Alabama, as well as, the former Indian princely states of Khairpur, Rajkot, and Jaora, just to name a few. And of course, there is the much debated Confederate flag. Although the original designer, Willian Porcher Miles, insisted he changed it from an upright cross to a saltire so that it would be more a heraldic device then a religious symbol.