We would have gone to visit a Stave church in Norway even if I did not have ancestors connected to one of them. There was at one time around 1,000 stave churches in Norway but only 28 remain. The Heddal Stave Church was built around 1250 (but some of the building material is as old as 900) and is the largest stave church in Norway.
Stave refers to the pillars of the church that are used in the construction. The outer room of the building is a hallway that encompasses the circumference of the main church. There are four entrance doors to the main part of the church within that hallway – one for the priest, one for the choir, one on the north side for the women (because evil comes from the north) and one on the south side for the men. Those who were not permitted in church, such as women who had just given birth, had to remain in the hallway and watch the service through peep-holes.
The interior of the church had painted walls – though the original paintings had been changed after the reformation to remove the saints. The current restoration tries to bring back the church to be as it was originally. One of the items in the church on display was the Bishop’s chair that dates to the mid 13th century when the church was built.
And, finally there was a rune on the wall – they believe it is possibly a code for “Mary”.
Below are my 6x great grandparents Torjus OLSEN and Ingeborg TORJUSDATTER listed as being married in the Heddal parish records.
Older than the Stave Church, the Sauherad church was built of brick and dates back to around 1150.
Rollev JENSEN FLADHAUS (my 5x great-grandfather) shown here as the head of the second family on the FLADHAUS farm on the 1801 census living in the Sauherad parish. They most likely attended the Sauherad Church.