Notes on the Geography of Norway: Urnes and Borgund Stave Churches: Photo 4
Here's a bit of the external gallery. There are no nails anywhere in the structure. But why the gallery in the first place? One Norwegian architect, Thomas Thiis-Evensen, points out that "travellers from afar received protection from rain and snow while waiting for the church service, and we know that the unbaptized followed the church service from the galleries through small holes in the walls." There was an psychological element, too. Thiis-Evensen writes, "We know that the Nordic rules for transferrals of land ownership required the purchaser to walk around the boundaries of his newly-acquired fields before his ownership was official. The cloister's ambulatories around the altar of a gothic cathedral provided a similar opportunity for the flow of pilgrims" (see Eva Valebrokk and Thiis-Evensen, Norway's Stave Churches: Architecture, History and Legends, 1995).
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