The only stave church to have remained unchanged since the Middle ages is Borgund Stave Church in western Norway. Dedicated to the apostle St. Andrew, it dates from round 1150 and is constructed from nearly 2,000 fastidiously crafted items of wood.
The inside is very simple: there aren’t any pews or decorations, and the lightning is restricted to a couple small openings high up on the partitions. The outside is richly adorned with carvings. There’s a sixteenth-century pulpit and a free-standing belfry with a medieval bell.
The earliest stave church buildings, constructed within the eleventh century, had wooden wall columns that had been set straight into the ground. These church buildings lasted no more than a hundred years, since moisture in the floor triggered the column bases to rot away. As building methods developed, it grew to become customary to set the wood framework on sills that rested on a stone basis. This raised the whole wooden skeleton above floor level, protecting it from humidity. This technique proved so efficient that churches constructed in the twelfth century are still standing in the present day.
Borgund Stave Church is among the largest and most ornately designed of the 30 remaining stave churches in Norway. Normally stave church buildings were simple, relatively small constructions with a nave and a narrow chancel. Borgund’s chancel additionally has a distinctive semicircular apse. The inside is dark, since light can solely filter from small spherical openings (windows) below the three-tiered roof, which is topped by a turret. An external gallery usually encircles stave churches.
The introduction of Christianity to Norway around the year 1000 noticed the merging of pagan and Christian cultures and beliefs. Most stave church buildings were erected on the sites of previous temples that have been destroyed in the wake of Christianity. The affect of this may be seen in the richly embellished carvings in stave churches, which unite pre-Christian and Christianan symbolism. The door frame designs are particularly elaborate and show the talent of the carpenters who decorated them from top to bottom with intricate carvings. Wood from pine trees was generally used, since this was most available. Branches and bark had been removed from the timber , which had been then left to dry out earlier than being chopped down. This technique meant that the wood was weather-resistant and durable.