Heddal Stavkyrkje

5.22.15.6850
scenery on the road between Skien and Notodden, Norway
5.22.15.6851
more scenery
5.22.15.6907
one of countless food storage houses (stabbur) we saw everywhere
5.22.15.6940
when I dream of Norway I see many birch trees
5.22.15.6962
Heddal Stave Church in Notodden
5.22.15.6966
memorial to Olea Crøger

Olea Crøger (1801-1855) was the daughter of a pastor from Heddal Stave Church, known for collecting Norwegian folk music and folklore.

5.22.15.6973
the church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary in 1242
5.22.15.6990
on a headstone in the churchyard
5.22.15.7011
in the cemetery
5.22.15.7018
the west side of the church, and main entrance
5.22.15.7028
altarpiece

After the Reformation alterations to the church were slowly made. The date of the painting showing the crucifixion of Jesus by an unknown artist is 1667. The one above it, of Christ rising from his tomb, was painted by Lars Osa about 1908.

5.22.15.7035
above the altar

5.22.15.7064

The Heddal portals are a mixture of fauna and floral ornamentation. The western portal is dominated by leaf carvings but the vines transform into snake shapes with poisonous heads. Other animal bodies can also be seen. … These motifs were renown in Norse religion and superstition but were reinterpreted in Christian art. They did of course provide a sense of familiarity for churchgoers who found it difficult to let go of their old heathen faith. At the same time these wild depictions became a symbol of the battle between good and evil in the world. This was a central topic both in the new and old faith.
~ Heddal Stavechurch guidebook

5.22.15.7084

5.22.15.7086

5.22.15.7091

5.22.15.7092

5.22.15.7096

I noticed that most of the columns inside the church had a simple carving at the bottom of the arches, but on either side of the southern entrance portal columns there was a carving of a creature of some sort (above). In the picture below you can see the simple carvings of three oval leaves (?) on the bottom of the arches, about the same level as the lights.

5.22.15.7097

5.22.18.7098

So I asked the docent about it. She explained that men used to enter the church from the southern portal and were thought to be more likely to bring corruption into the church, so the gargoyle was needed to scare off the evil. The women, on the other hand, used the northern portal and were already protected by the Virgin Mary.

5.22.15.7111
based on “Soria Moria Castle” by Theodor Kittelsen

It was chilly that day and we appreciated a cup of hot cocoa in the visitor center. I was delighted to find these copies of paintings on the backs of a couple of chairs. I’ve been using Theodor Kittelsen’s calendar art in my posts on the 15th of each month since August.

5.22.15.7112
based on “White Bear King Valemon” by Theodor Kittelsen

Next stop: Viking Ship Museum in Oslo.