Restoring the heritage

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The Stave churches are an important part of Norway’s architectural heritage, and they are among the worlds oldest buildings made of wood. Of these medieval wooden churches that was once so common in north-western Europe there are only 30 left, 28 of them in Norway, and one of them is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I have written about them a couple of times before, like the beautiful one in Lom and also others. Yesterday I went to visit the small one above. Contrary to many of the others it is not used as a church anymore, but is relocated to a museum. I found out there was restoration going on. In fact the government have used millions since 2001, and this year the work will be completed.

Haltdal stavkirke, Trøndelag folkemuseum. Detalj av beslag på døra.

That is good. Every building needs to be repaired sometimes, not the least a building that is almost 850 years old as this one is, that is Haltdalen stave church. There were no people around so I didn’t get any information, but when I got home I got news about the project. That is a local company complaining that it was foreign craftsmen doing the job, people from Eastern Europe. Nothing wrong with foreign workers, they are usually very nice people doing nice work. But the way these companies are organized, they have transformed part of the Norwegian work force. Resulting in lower wages, insecure jobs and less unionisation. That is another discussion, even if it is the International Workers’ Day tomorrow. The main thing is that this big project was supposed to contribute to new knowledge and experience among local craftsmen, and lead to more use of traditional handicraft techniques, materials and resources. Then it sounds a bit strange to let foreigners do the work. Not because they don’t have the necessary knowledge, they probably do, but because it is essential to transfer knowledge of old crafts and techniques so that expertise is available locally. Because restoration never ends, even when completed.

Haltdal stavkirke, Trøndelag folkemuseum. Detalj av taket.

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As far as I know there are no original stave church further north than Haltdalen stave church, which is located at a museum in Trondheim. A replica of this church was given to Iceland, in commemoration of the thousandth anniversary of the conversion of Iceland to Christianity, recalling the first church built in Iceland by the Viking king Olav Tryggvason in 1000. Heimaey stave church was erected at Vestmannaeyjar, in an area formed by the lava of the 1973 eruption of Eldfell. I don’t have a picture of that church, but I would certainly like to see it some day. There are more photos in my stave churches photo gallery.

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38 thoughts on “Restoring the heritage

  1. Great work from photographs, the story makes us travel to the past you, I congratulate you. Your blog makes us know magical places us who are on the other side of the world.
    Carlos 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a beautiful building. I love seeing photos of such old buildings. Those in our area are not nearly so old. My town is “old” and it was founded about 120 years ago!
    It seems quite odd that it is not native people, locals if possible, doing the restoration. That happened in my community once too. Work was being done downtown through a government grant. There was all this publicity about the work creating jobs, but no locals were hired. People were quite upset.

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  3. Nice report and the photos Bente.
    It is rather surprising to see such simple structure could survive 850 years, in comparison to some 1300 year old
    massive Japanese temples. —– The situation of dwindling number of craftsman might be the same in Japan
    as an aging demography still, the situation seems a bit better over there.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Magnifiques églises en bois. Un patrimoine à préserver. Ici, nos églises ne sont qu’en pierres et j’admire vraiment les tiennes. Le bois est une richesse à préserver. Bonne journée Bente et merci pour ce partage.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s a good thing that the church is being repaired, but the problem of employing cheaper foreign labour is endemic, I am afraid. There should be a law against that so that the local workforce has an equal chance of landing a job or at least to make sure that most of the people employed are local.

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  6. Truly, it’s wonderful that these older building are being restored… But ditto. Why not have local populations restore them, especially to learn architecture and building techniques of their ancestors? That just makes SENSE.

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  7. Love the bold architecture design as you’ve shown it from the front Bente ..
    So important as you say to keep those skills going on forward into future !

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful pictures, Bente! I’m looking forward to seeing a stave church when I go to Norway later this month. I understand there is one in Notodden which seems to be close to Brevik, where my Norwegian ancestor was born. Looking forward to seeing the architecture up close. Years ago I visited a replica of a stave church at the Norwegian pavilion at EPCOT (at Disney World, Orlando, Florida) and was deeply moved – I’ve been longing to visit one in Norway ever since.

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  9. This is such a fascinating process Bente. And I know you are happy the work is being done to restore this beautiful old old building. It is lovely and deserves all the attention. Thank you for sharing.

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  10. What a beautiful church, and what an interesting heritage. Preservation, repair and restoration are so important for such treasures. It’s wonderful to know that your country is doing so.

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  11. I have been fascinated by the stave churches ever since I read your first post on them Bente. This little one looks beautiful! I would love to visit all of them someday! Pity about local craftsmen being ignored for a traditional restoration project like this.

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  12. I’m often amazed at the skills of our ancestors. Look at the foundation of that church–built with stones and still standing strong 850 years later!

    We have an old house on our farm that was built about 130 years ago and it has a foundation of stones too. I assumed it wouldn’t be structurally sound compared to modern techniques so I had an engineer come out and look at it. He found no evidence of any problems and said it’s been standing solidly for over 100 years and he saw no reason to worry about it. Of course this beautiful church has been standing far longer than that. Bravo to the people who built it!

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  13. Vilken fantastisk plats du varit på! Har aldrig besökt någon av dessa kyrkor eller byggnader, tack för att du tog mig med ! 🙂
    Allt gott till dig 🌸
    Carina

    Like

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