The Stave Church from Gol

Hallingdal, Buskerud, ca. 1200

The old stave church at Gol was due for replacement by a new church around 1880. The Sociecty for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments bought the old church and presented it to King Oscar II, who paid for its rebuilding on Bygdøy.

  • Gol Stavkirke på Norsk Folkemuseum
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    Haakon Harriss, Norsk Folkemuseum
Only about 1/3 of the materials in the dismantled church, those considered to be from the Middle Ages, were sent from the site. It was therefore a highly recontstructed church that was rebuilt using Borgund Stave Church in Sogn as an example.

The lofty west and south portals are richly carved with entwined dragonand plant motifs. The west portal is original, while that to the south is acopy from 1884. The carved heads uppermost on the staves can be glimpsed in thedim light filtering in through the peepholes far above. The church was mostlikely decorated in Catholic times with colorful paintings of the saints. Thereare numerous runic inscriptions and carvings dated to the early Middle Ages inthe church. Most are in the chancel and show animal figures, humans andgeometric symbols. The runes on a pillar in the nave can be read as “Kiss me,because I am so sad”, and may refer to a saint’s picture once hung on thepillar.

After the Reformation in 1537, all fixtures from the Catholic period were removed and replaced by the galleries and pulpits usually found in post-Reformation church interiors. As mentioned above, a few examples of Lutheran church art, name lythe wall paintings in the chancel and apse from 1652, have been preserved. The paintings were paid for by the members of the congregation whose names are written on the wall of the chancel. Other preserved objects include a lectern inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer and a baptismal font.