Heddal Stave Church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Heddal Church
Heddal Stave Church, Norway's largest stave church
Heddal Church is located in Norway South
Heddal Church
Heddal Church
59°34′46″N 9°10′35″E / 59.57944°N 9.17639°E / 59.57944; 9.17639Coordinates: 59°34′46″N 9°10′35″E / 59.57944°N 9.17639°E / 59.57944; 9.17639
LocationNotodden, Vestfold og Telemark
DenominationChurch of Norway
Previous denominationCatholic Church
ChurchmanshipEvangelical Lutheran
StatusParish church
Functional statusActive
CompletedEarly 13th century
DioceseDiocese of Agder
StatusProtected by resolution

Heddal Stave Church (Bokmål Heddal stavkirke, Nynorsk Heddal stavkyrkje) is a stave church located at Heddal in Notodden municipality, Norway.[1]

The church is a triple nave stave church and is Norway's largest stave church. It was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century. After the reformation, the church was in a very poor condition, and a restoration took place during 1849–1851. However, because the restorers lacked the necessary knowledge and skills, yet another restoration was necessary in the 1950s. The interior is marked by the period after the Lutheran Reformation in 1536–1537 and is for a great part a result of the restoration that took place in the 1950s.


There is a legend telling about the erection of the church and how it was built in three days.

Five farmers (Raud Rygi, Stebbe Straand, Kjeik Sem, Grut Grene and Vrang Stivi) from Heddal had made plans for a church, and they decided to have it built.

One day, Raud Rygi (one of the five men) met a stranger who was willing to build the church. However, the stranger, set three conditions for doing the job, one of which must be fulfilled before the church was finished:

Raud had three options: fetch the sun and the moon from the sky, forfeit his life-blood, or guess the name of the stranger. Raud thought the last would not prove too difficult, so he agreed to the terms

But time began to run out. All of the building materials had arrived during the first night, and remarkably, the spire was built during the second. It became clear to Raud that the church would be finished on the third day.

Down at heart and fearing for his life, Raud took a walk around in the fields trying to figure out what the stranger's name could be. Still wandering about he had unconsciously arrived at Svintruberget (a rocky hill southeast of the church site) when he suddenly heard a strange but most beautiful and clearly audible female song:

Tomorrow Finn will bring us the Moon.
Where he goes, the sun and christian blood perish.
He brings children to song and play.
But now my children, sleep safe and sound.

Or in Norwegian

I morgen kommer Finn og bringer oss maanen
der han kommer forgaar sol og kristenblod
lokker barna til sang og spel
men nå mine små, sov stille og vel

Now Raud knew what to do, as the stranger was a mountain troll. As expected, the stranger visited Raud the next day, to present the church. Together they walk over to the church, and Raud walks up to one of the pillars, hugs it as if to straighten it, and says, "Hey Finn, this pillar isn't straight!" Finn snaps back, "I could be even more bent!" and then hastily leaves the church.

Raud had solved the riddle after all. The stranger's name was Finn and he lived in the Svintru Mountain. Finn, also known as Finn Fairhair or Finn Fagerlokk, a troll, could not ever after stand the sound of church bells, so he moved along with his family to Himing (Lifjell).

According to legend, the same troll was also responsible for building Nidaros Cathedral, Church of Avaldsnes and Lund Cathedral.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Gourley, D.N. (2004). Astri, My Astri: Norwegian Heritage Stories (in German). D.N. Gourley. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-9760541-0-8. Retrieved 5 June 2019. Called a gothic cathedral in wood, the Heddal stavkirke near Notodden, Telemark is Norway's largest stavkirke.

External links[edit]