Hopperstad Stave Church (Norwegian: Hopperstad stavkyrkje) is a stave church near Vikøyri in the municipality of Vik in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway. The stave church is assumed to have been built around 1130 and still stands at its original location. The church is owned by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments.
In 1997, a series of samples from the logs were collected for dendrochronological dating of the church. A total of seven samples produced an estimate for the construction ranging from 1034 to 1116 and resulted in no definite conclusion. The only possible conclusion is that this is one of the oldest stave churches still standing.
About 700 years after its construction the church was abandoned and its exterior stripped. The church was in very poor condition for many years until the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments purchased the building in 1880. Using the Borgund Stave Church as a model, architect Peter Andreas Blix reconstructed the church between 1884 and 1891, restoring its 17th-century painted decor to what was assumed to be the original medieval appearance. During the reconstruction carved sections were found beneath the floor which indicates that the new church replaced an older church, which was probably built in the later half of the 11th century.
The church had not undergone any major changes until the 17th century. At that time the nave was lengthened to the west, and a bell-tower was added above the new extension. To the east a log section was added, and a new vestibule to the south with its own entrance.
The largest addition came to the north with a log construction, named the New Church (Nykirken). The constructions were finalized in the 18th century, but then removed in around 1875. There are no known images of the interior from this time, but a story written by the priest Niels Dahl, who is assumed to have visited the church in 1824, describes the interior:
The church has galleries at three levels around all of the walls with staircases up to the galleries. And the font is placed under the medieval baldaquin. And the walls are painted by numerous quotes from the Holy Scripture in vivid colours.
The church is a triple-nave stave church of what is known as the Borgund-type. It has three portals, and the western portal is an excellent example of Middle Age wood carving. The motifs are of a romance character, often associated with European influence. The nave is a raised central room with an aisle around it, and the choir is apsidal and narrower than the nave.
The church contains an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and 14th-century ciborium with a baldachin on the north side. The ciborium has four sculptured heads, that of Christ with a halo, a queen, a king, and a monk. The roof of the baldachin bears a painting of the birth of Christ.
There is a replica of the Hopperstad reconstruction at the Heritage Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota, United States.
What is a Stave Church?
A stave church is a medieval wooden church with a post and beam construction related to timber framing. The wall frames are filled with vertical planks. The load-bearing posts (stafr in Old Norse, stav in Norwegian) have lent their name to the building technique. Related church types are post churches and churches with palisade walls.
All of the surviving stave churches except one are in Norway, but related church types were once common all over north-western Europe. The only remaining medieval stave churches outside Norway are one dating to approximately 1500 located at Hedared in Sweden and one Norwegian stave church that was relocated in 1842 to the outskirts of Krummhübel, Germany, now Karpacz in the Krkonoše mountains of Poland. One other church, the Anglo-Saxon Greensted Church in England, has many similarities but is not universally regarded as a stave church.
Photos on top by: www.veroldin.com
Bottom photo by: www.nina.no
Text modified by: ThorNews