Few villages in the west of Norway have so many rich pre-historic burial mounds as the municipality of Etne. Contours of one of the largest burial grounds in the area are visible beside Stødle Church.
In Stødle, as at Grindheim, we are able to observe the connection between the church, cemetery and a pre-Christian burial ground. The long church was the Viking chieftain Erling Skakke's private chapel from about 1160. The stone section was built in Romanesque style, and the timbered nave was extended around 1650. An altarpiece and a crucifix from 1636 can also be found here. The baroque pulpit dates from about 1600 and the two church bells from the Middle Ages.
On the edge of the large Stødle terrace, with its magnificent view over Etne parish and the fjord, about 15 burial mounds remain today. According to legend, it was Erling Skakke, father of King Magnus Erlingsson, who in 1160 ad erected the oldest section of Stødle Church. The court of Stødle is named in the sagas as an important centre of power in viking times and in the Middle ages. However, the many burial mounds and rock carvings in the area reveal that the area was already of significance in the Bronze age. With a fantastic view over Etnefjord and village, it is well worth taking time to visit Stødle Church. The road is signposted from the centre of Etne and an information board is positioned beside the church.