Norway’s Oldest Church Founded by a Viking King

Norway's Oldest Church 995 AD

Moster Old Church was according to the sagas founded by Olaf Tryggvason in 995 AD. (Photo: Unknown)

Recently baptized, Viking king Olaf Tryggvason stepped ashore on the Moster island in Western Norway in the year 995 AD. Olaf brought with him a bishop who was called Sigurd. The Norse sagas tell that immediately after they came ashore, it was set up a long tent and held worship.

It was on Moster King Olaf Tryggvason began the attempts to Christianize Norway, and it was here he decided to draw an outline of a church on the ground. Snorri writes that he later built a church here, and in several of the sagas it is mentioned that this is the first church in Norway.

Some historians argue that at first it probably was constructed of wood. Others believe that today’s stone church, or at least parts of it, was built when Olaf Tryggvason was king (995-1000). In that case, the Moster Old Church not only is the oldest in Norway, but also the oldest in Scandinavia. Officially, the church is from year 1050.

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Norway's Oldest Church 995 AD Interior

The interior is from the 1600s and has never been changed. The pulpit in Renaissance style is from 1637. (Photo:

It may probably have been built small churches in Norway in the 800s when some chiefs and petty kings introduced Christianity locally. Tunsberg in Eastern Norway is mentioned as a possible location. Most likely there has been a gradual transition between heathen hofs that were “Christianized” and used as the first buildings for Christian rituals.


Text modified by: Thor Lanesskog, ThorNews


Categories: Culture, History, Vikings, Western Norway

6 replies

  1. Is there a photo missing? Looks like there should be one at the top of the article? The interior is fascinating, seems so small. I guess they didn’t have hundreds of parishioners back then 😉

  2. Is it still in use, or is it now a museum? The reason I ask is that Værnes kirke in Stjørdal is known as Norway’s oldest stone building still in use.


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