Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stiklestad. St Olaf's Church, Exterior. Norway's Steeple Chase.

Norway: The Great Untampered-With Steeple Chase
Which 12th-13th Century Stave (Wooden) and Stone Churches Remain Relatively Untouched

Watch the steeples to see which old churches remain exciting on the outside. Austerity is not exciting. Early times energy, however, before somebody imposed their austerity on the first enthusiasts, is exciting.  That is the criteria.  Did institutional Christianity add to human enthusiasm for life, insights related to a founder's message; or did power grabs take over, fast.

Norwegian church styles: The earliest Christian churches were stave, built on wooden piers, and of wood; and stone.

There is a commonality of style to many 12th Century stone churches in Norway.  The stone structures stayed firm, unlike the stave churches, wood, built on great wooden piers that usually rotted within 100 years, requiring rebuilding.

Both types, however, undergo style changes that detract from the original exteriors. Somebody plunks odd, skinny disproportional steeples on top of the Romanesque stone, as here at St. Olav's (Olaf-Olav, search both). Or the same misguided ascetics remove the dragons once under rooflines or at the ends of eaves, leaving a sadly austere structure that would attract noone with verve. Is that so?  This is a steeple comparison site.

Here is the spindly steeple on venerable St. Olav's, to commemorate where the seeker of a united Norway, using Christianity as the novel ideology whereby the in-group could justify annihilating the out-group, as elsewhere in western cultures.

Birds flock to show the teeny steeple, that is of bird-size.

The mortally wounded St. Olaf is also said to have rested against this stone on the battlefield where he fought his losing battle against fellow-Christian King Canute of Denmark, some distance away, but in the same theme park.

The manipulation of steeple structures makes the medieval stone churches look Protestant, as was the design come the Reformation in Norway.  Away with the old, or at least add what is wanted for the new, and in with the new.  Bell towers, sometimes not connected, used to be the rule when Norway first Christianized.  These little steeples look New England to some of us, and out of place.

Compare the contemporaneous stave churches that are enough off the beaten path to have escaped the barbaric barberings of reformers.  Here, in a post to come, is Vik: at Vik there is not only a stone church, but a stave church.  If you want one place to go in Norway to see its history, go to Vik:

 The bell tower is totally separate.

Compare bell towers and steeples.  Did the Reformation add energy, or detract.

Now see the old Hopperstad stave church at Vik, a silhouette with vitality in dragons on the roof points, ithout being barbered by later ideologues. Love the dragons and what they represent in spirit, energy.  See http://faculty.arch.utah.edu/miller/Stave%20Churches_001.pdf

In the relatively untouched category of churches, there is another in Vik:  The Hove stone church.

This is a measure against which all the stone churches with their silly pointy steeples and barbered exteriors may be measured.  This stone church, with its dragons not on the eaves, but under them and even more evocative, is contemporaneous with the Hopperstad stave church, not far away/ This Hove Stone Church, at Vik, perhaps the oldest in Norway: see http://www.visitnorway.com/us/Product/?pid=107880

Compare Stiklestad's stone church, and other stone churches, subjected to the Reformation's barbering.

In comparison to the solidity of the stone church at Vik, Hove Church, the castrati at Stiklestad is sterile.  Now, peek under the eaves at Hove:  more vitality, human energy reaching to the heavens however defined:

Then, compare what was done, the sad remnants of the really old stave churches, stripped of their energy, exemplified here in Ringerike.  

We cannot direct link to ourselves. Danger. Google says it is spam if we link to ourselves, and they even deleted an entire blog because they did not like our linking to ourselves, so look up the key word Rinkerike in this Norway Road Ways site on your own to see the details. Google is frightening in its confiscatory power it assumes for itself. Corporations are to be feared more than governments.

 This, at Rinkerike, remains an architectural travesty, as any of the stave churches stripped of their original symbols of vitality. Yet, the harsh skinny steeple style invades so many old church sites.

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