My article is on Stave Churches
this month. I hope you learn something new!
A stave church is a
medieval wooden church, with a post (stave) and a beam
construction related to timber framing. The wall frames are filled
with vertical planks. The loadbearing posts have lent their name
to the building technique.
Some constructions are known from
buildings from the Viking era. Logs were split in quarters, rammed
into the ground and given a roof. If it was set in gravel, the
wall could last for decades, and even centuries! Remains of
buildings of this type of church are found around a lot of Europe.
In the later churches, the walls were held up by
sills, only leaving the corner posts in the earth. Such churches
are easy to spot at archaeological sites because they leave very
distinct holes where posts were placed. Sometimes the remains are
even preserved, which makes it possible to give a very good dating
of the church building. Under Urnes stave church, remains have
been found of two such churches, with Christian graves discovered
below the oldest church. In still alter churches; the posts were
set on a raised sill frame, resting on stone foundations. This is
the stave church in its most mature form.
Stave churches were
once common in Northern Europe. In Norway alone, a total of about
1,000 churches have been built, although more recent research has
adjusted the number to around 2000! Some believe they were the
first type of church to be built in Scandinavia. In Norway, 28
historical stave churches remain standing. There are also a number
of places where there have been archaeological surveys uncover old