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Notes on the Geography of Norway: Urnes and Borgund Stave Churches: Photo 6

world pictures Norway: Urnes and Borgund Stave Churches




The jambs, lintel, and the columns supporting the curve of the archivolt are covered with carved vegetation and (near the top of the opening) dragons biting the tails of other dragons. Inside, you can see why these churches are called stave churches, because they are supported by pine logs. (The logs were carefully dried for years before the trees were cut down. The trees had been killed by ring-barking them.) The diagonal bracing is in the form of the cross of St. Andrew. Below the cross, there's an arch formed by two L-braces, a shape known to shipbuilders of the time. A visitor in 1886, when the church had no electric lighting, wrote that "the inside is like a smokehouse dedicated to some mystic cult, where the darkness of the Saga overwhelms the flickering candles of Catholicism... a sinister experience, quite honestly." (Holger Drachmann, a Danish poet, quoted in Roar Hauglid, Norwegian Stave Churches,, p. 5)

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