Sognefjord itself is down the hill, where the town clusters; mountains all around. Arrive by car over the mountains for the best views and variety on the way. Once here, see dragons fly. Hopperstad like all stave churches has been repaired, reconstructed, rebuilt on an older site if and when the original piers rotted, since the 1100's. Hopperstad has been carefully preserved, reimagined. Where possible, I understand that original wood was used, and where it had been before. See http://www.spottinghistory.com/view/3247/hopperstad-stave-church/
The gallery openings look inspired by monastic architecture on mainland Europe, as well could be the case. Institutional Christianity was replacing older, pan-religious forms of this new religion.
The piers supporting stave churches originally were set in the ground directly, leading to rot rot rot. The replacements set the piers on slab stone. Waterproofing: with tar.
Doorways from the worship area lead directly to the galleries.
4. Hourglass on its side, or partial form of something else?. Is this the Daga-R from the early set (500AD? Were these remote areas, like Vik, not subject to the latest fashion in rune design, so that an early form just kept on going? The narrative at the Development of the arild-hauge site notes that not only scribes were literate in the forms, but also ordinary people who recorded ordinary events, comments.
6. Suddenly the rune shapes are all over, on top of each other.
Find the dragons and follow. See Mythological Background, the Battle with the Dragon, and the Saga of Sigurd, at http://faculty.arch.utah.edu/miller/Stave%20Churches_001.pdf
In too many stave churches, on the main pathways, dragons that were within easier reach of reformers and conformity-obsessed institutional religionists whacked off the time-honored dragons. Time to let them back in. Or on. Even the shingles on the roofs are rounded to look like dragon scales. Excellent.