Kaupanger Stave Church

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Kaupanger Stave Church
Kaupanger stavkyrkje
Kaupanger Stavkyrkje.JPG
View of the church
Kaupanger Stave Church is located in Sogn og Fjordane
Kaupanger Stave Church
Kaupanger Stave Church
Location of the church
Kaupanger Stave Church is located in Norway
Kaupanger Stave Church
Kaupanger Stave Church
Kaupanger Stave Church (Norway)
61°11′03″N 7°14′00″E / 61.184167°N 7.233333°E / 61.184167; 7.233333Coordinates: 61°11′03″N 7°14′00″E / 61.184167°N 7.233333°E / 61.184167; 7.233333
LocationSogndal Municipality,
Sogn og Fjordane
DenominationChurch of Norway
Previous denominationCatholic Church
ChurchmanshipEvangelical Lutheran
StatusParish church
Founded12th century
Functional statusActive
Architectural typeLong church
Completedc. 1140
DeanerySogn prosti
StatusAutomatically protected

Kaupanger Stave Church (Norwegian: Kaupanger stavkyrkje) is the largest stave church in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. It is a parish church of the Church of Norway in Sogndal Municipality and it is located in the village of Kaupanger, on the northern shore of the Sognefjorden. It is the church for the Kaupanger parish which is part of the Sogn prosti (deanery) in the Diocese of Bjørgvin. The brown, wooden church was built in the mid-12th century (around 1140) and it has been in use ever since that time. The church seats about 125 people.[1][2]

The church is a Norwegian Cultural Heritage Site and it is owned by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments. The nave is supported by 22 staves (large bearing columns), eight on each of the longer sides and three on each of the shorter. The elevated chancel is carried by four free standing staves. The church has the largest number of staves to be found in any one stave church. It is the largest of the five stave churches in Sogn og Fjordane county.[3][4]


The earliest existing historical records of the church date back to the year 1308, but the church was likely built in the mid-12th century, around the year 1140. It is situated on the ruins of what might be two previous stave churches. Kaupanger was a market town that King Sverre burned down in 1184 to punish the local inhabitants for disobeying him. It was previously thought that the stave church previously standing on this site burned down in this fire, as archaeological research in the 1960s revealed that the previous church had burned down. The present church was therefore believed to have been built around 1190. Recent research has changed these assumptions. Dendrochronology has shown that the timber used for building the church was cut in 1137. Also, Sverris saga makes no mention of the burning of the church at the time the town was burnt. Consequently, it is now assumed that the church was built around 1140-1150.[5][3]

Several restoration projects have taken place both inside the church and on the exterior. A major reconstruction was carried out in 1862, which has been called a "brutal modernization". New rows of windows were cut into the sides of the church, white exterior panelling was installed and dark roof tiles covered the old shingle roof. In 1959-1960, a restoration was carried out and many of the 1862 changes were undone and it was brought back to its 17th century look. The pulpit, altarpiece and font are all from the 17th century. In 1984, composer Arne Nordheim was inspired by the neumes and the sound of the medieval bells in Kaupanger stave church in composing the work Klokkesong, which was first performed inside the church as part of the 800th commemoration of the Battle of Fimreite.[3][4]

Media gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kaupanger stavkyrkje". Kirkesøk: Kirkebyggdatabasen. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  2. ^ "Oversikt over Nåværende Kirker" (in Norwegian). KirkeKonsulenten.no. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  3. ^ a b c "Kaupanger stavkyrkje" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  4. ^ a b Henden Aaraas, Margrethe; Vengen, Sigurd; Gjerde, Anders. "Kaupanger stavkyrkje" (in Norwegian). Fylkesarkivet. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  5. ^ "Kaupanger stavkirke". Stavekirke.info.

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