During the Middle Ages, immense stone cathedrals were constructed in many parts of Europe. In Norway, a similar technique was used for building in wood.
Thanks to the Vikings’ interest in boat construction and home building, the technique, and tradition of wood carving was further developed. The work culminated in the stave churches.
There are several types of stave churches, but what they all have in common are corner-posts (“staves”) and a framework of timber with wall planks standing on sills. These walls are known as stave walls, hence the name stave church.
The churches’ wooden doors and finials are beautifully carved. The decorations feature an intriguing combination of Christian motifs and what is often assumed to be pre-Christian Viking themes with animals and dragons.
Today, 28 historical stave churches remain standing. As you can see in the map below, the majority of the churches are located in the inner parts of Eastern Norway and Fjord Norway.
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