Monday, November 25, 2013

Skaun Church - But Husaby was Older

Skaun Church features as the parish church at Vinjar in the fine novel about 12th Century Norway by Nobel Prize winner Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter, at page 468

Husaby was older -- built about 1040, and now a ruin.
Skaun Church, Skaun, Norway

Skaun Church was built in about 1183, and begins the pilgrim path from Skaun to Nidaros, the Cathedral in Trondheim where Saint Olav is said to be buried, deep in it somewhere. Norway is webbed with pilgrim ways to Nidaros, see  The routes lead to the supposed resting place of Norway's patron saint, Olav II, Olaf Haroldsson, a/k/a Olav the Fat or Olaf the Stout or Olaf the Thick, later St. Olav, was killed in battle at Stiklestad, north of Trondheim, in 1030.  He had begun or continued the forced conversion of Norwegians to Christianity (begun by Olav I?), to unite the nation under something against Denmark's incursions, and sought to regain the throne after an earlier defeat by King Canute of Denmark (who at the time ruled England, Denmark and Norway).

Olav. Olaf. Use all spellings in searches. Why is Olaf considered a saint? Hard to figure. Forcing conversions to unify and buttress his own power as king over a disparate group of people is hardly an entry ticket to holiness.

1.  The Porch, to the left.

I had thought that the left-hand section, the wooden part, was the weapons house, or a successor to that function. In Tingvoll, site of another stone church of about the same age, the structure like the one here at the left was called the weapons house, added in the 17th Century for parishioners to shove their staves. Its use became more as a mud room, an entry place for talk, for holding people outside who were not entitled to come inside, and now often for tables with pamphlets. This would have been added, if it is like Tingvoll, after the Reformation from Catholicism to Lutheranism in about 1538.  In Tingvoll, the addition was in the 1600's.   Here, the literature on the public bulletin board (see below) says this is a porch for vestry, clergy and baptisms, added very late in 1949.  Did the earlier parishioners wear their weapons inside? Was there an earlier little addition there before 1949?

Skaun was not open when we were there.  Try to see Norway before August 31. Although you may think you are avoiding the crowds and still enjoying wonderful weather, you will get both but also find that the place shuts down as to tourists as of September 1.  Why? Why?  Just leave things open for even 10 more days, and look at the happy tourists who will flock.  Or do they not want us?  Probably, they do not want tourists after our allotted time, behave nicely as we try...  I saw no sign directing us to the museum we now learn was nearby, and surmise like the fox and the grapes that it was all shut up too.

2.  Weathervane.  Ordinary.

At the top of the steeple weathervane is a small banner (it looks like), not a little ship as we have seen elsewhere, not a cross, no dragons, and no dragons under the eaves as we found at the old stone church at Vik. Perhaps the Catholic strength after the Black Death in the mid 1300's, and then the Protestants ejecting the Catholics in the Reformation in the 1500's purged the old vitality symbols that served neither of them by that point.  

3.  Where to turn when the place is closed.

From the information board:  This is a best effort, with church and museum closed, this is what we found. Not quotes, but as close as I can....
SKAUN CHURCH. History.  The oldest church in Skaun was a little stone church, the ruins of which are still seen at Husaby (nearby).  This (Husaby) was a private chapel on the property of the local chief, built approximately 1040.   Skaun Church in the middle ages was named Vinjar Church and it was built 100 years later, probably so the whole village (could attend).  In the south gate, a stone-mason's mark was discovered, identical to one in the exterior wall of the octagon at Nidaros Caathedral.  Due to these marks, the church can be dated back to 1180.
Like the majority of churches in this country, it was appropriated by the Danish governors.  It was (___) but in 1790 the villagers managed to purchase the church for 1300 riksdaler. 
Architecture:  Skaun Church is a stone church in early Gothic style, but with thick walls and round arched windows in the Roman style. The thick stone walls were built of uncut stone, but soap-stone was used in the corners and in the windows and door arches. The soap-stone is believed to have been taken from a quarry at Eidslimarka in Skaun.  In 1650, the church was given a new tower and the chancel gable and the upper part of the east gable of the nave were rebuilt.  The porch, in cross-jointed timber, containing the vestry for the clergy and baptismal vestry was built in 1949.

 **** (details of size, etc.)

4.  Side private doorway to chancel.


The entry to the sanctuary altar area would be used by clergy and others (including coffins??) for services.  The chancel is the area, often steps, leading up to the sanctuary.  In old churches, there might be wood or stone screening between the nave and the sanctuary.

5.  Side entry to nave, now reduced to window status.
Was this doorway blocked in 1949 when the new porch was built?

The nave is where the people sit.  The 1949 porch is to the right, and used now as the entrance. 

6.  This kind of skinny steeple dates from the 1700's.
More likely, a square, more squat belltower was on the building, or even beside it, earlier. This little steeple looks out of place for a Romanesque-window and arch and early Gothic church mix.

Early stone churches were dim.  The large iron staple toward the top small window opening would stabilize the stonework.

Early churches with the little windows were also useful as refuge points.  Some used alabaster in the windows. What was used here?  


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