Wood Church at Burgund

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Borgund stave church is a stave church located in Borgund, Lærdal, Norway. It is classified as a triple nave stave church of the so-called Sogn-type. It was probably built in the end of the 12th century, and has not changed structure or had a major reconstruction since that date. The church site shows evidence of a previous building, which can point to an earlier church or perhaps an old pagan temple that had been taken into use as a church. The interior of the church, except for the pulpit and the altarpiece, is mainly free from the post-Reformation decorations seen in most other stave churches. An authentic medieval square-shaped baptismal font made of soapstone is still a part of the interior. Borgund stave church is owned by Fortidsminneforeningen (The Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments). “The wood buildings of Norway lay claim to a certain monumental and historical importance, partly because they belong to the oldest class of buildings of this description, and partly owing to the purpose for which they were erected, namely, to serve as churches. The case is different as regards the merit of their artistic construction and beauty of shape, in both of which points the standard attained is not a high one, as shown by [this image]. The details principally show traces of the architectural styles prevalent at the time of their erection, viz., the Romanesque and Byzantine, while the main forms must be considered as the result of a severe climate. The perishable nature of the material employed was also naturally prejudicial to any advanced and regular development of architectural skills. From these causes the whole design assumed a pyramidal shape, whilst the climate necessitated mode of construction which is peculiar to the buildings in question. As a projection against its rigours the structures were surrounded by covered passages ornamented externally with those little arcades which are a distinguishing feature of the Romanesque style, whilst the roofs were necessarily very steep in shape on account of the heavy falls of snow, and were covered with wood shingles, tiles, or slates. The form of construction is rather rough, for the corners are generally formed of rude logs, whilst the walls between merely consist of upright boards jointed to one another. Churches of this description are know in Norway by the name of Fascine Churches. Although the construction is thus artless, yet an effort to enrich the whole by individual details and by employment of painted embellishments is frequently to be noticed. This especially effected by means of arabesque-like carvings on the doorways and gables.”


A. Rosengarten, W. Collett-Sandars A Handbook of Architectural Styles (New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895)


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