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Notes on the Geography of Norway: Urnes and Borgund Stave Churches: Photo 5

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The round-headed door is original, as is the upper strap hinge and the square lock plate. The planks of the door, like all the wood used in the church, were shaped with ax, wedge, and adze. No saws, in other words. But why is the doorway so narrow? Could the builders not manage double doors? Thiis-Evensen explains that the narrow entrance was deliberate. "The sacred was to be approached alone.... At the opening, one is encircled by a richly-carved frenzy of struggling serpents, dragons and lions... The struggle is particularly extreme here at the entrance to the sanctuary, the threshold to salvation." As a symbol of the transition from profane to sacred, the doorway bears comparison to the moonstones of Anuradhapura, in Sri Lanka.

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