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Notes on the Geography of Norway: Urnes and Borgund Stave Churches: Photo 3

world pictures Norway: Urnes and Borgund Stave Churches




The dragon-head gable heads may be derived from the prow of Viking ships: after all, the men hired to build these churches were probably shipbuilders. Notice the upward curved snout, the flicking tongue, the jaw, eye socket, and tousled mane. The date 1738 is carved into the ridge crest, but parts of the dragon heads are old. Old enough to be original? Who knows?

Where the dragon-head ultimately originates is anyone's guess, although it presumably goes back to Norse religion. Christianity, after all, came to Norway via Viking expeditions to the British Isles, and the Viking ships that made those journeys already carried the dragon motif.

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