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About Høre stavkyrkje
An unusual runic inscription at the pulpit shows that Høre Stave Church dates back to around 1179. However, the oldest coin found under the church floor is from around 1100, and the church may have replaced an older smaller-sized church. The story behind the runic inscriptions is exiting. According to legend, King Sverre passed through Valdres in 1177 on the run from Magnus Erlingsson. Elling, the Kvie Lendmann (feudatory), had joined King Sverre in his fight against King Magnus and his father the earl Erling Skakke. When Erling fell in the battle at Kalvskinnet in Nidaros (Trondheim), Elling and his brother Audun decided to build Høre Stave Church as the runic inscriptions says: "In the summer of which the brothers Elling and Audun cut (timber) to this church, Erling fell in Nidaros.
Høre Stave Church is rich in dragon and lion wood carvings from the Medieval Ages, and among these are two beautiful portals, belonging to the chief of woodcarving in Norway from this period. What used to be the ridge turret, is today the entrance to the graveyard. A censer from Medieval Ages hangs in the choir.
Gyda from Kvie, the church's neighbouring farm, was the daughter of the petty king Eirik of Hordaland. She was the one who prompted Harald Hårfagre to unite Norway into one kingdom towards the end of the 800s. Brought up at Kvie, a manor farm in Valdres, she made Harald promise not to cut his hair or shave until he had unified the country. Initially, she turned down the king's proposal of marriage, but when he had done what she asked, Gyda married King Harald.
The church stood virtually unchanged for 1822, when it was rebuilt in the same manner as Lomen and Hegge. The choir was built new, the semicircular apse behind the altar were removed, the church was extended to the west, and the walls of the nave moved out to the hallways to expand the church. Externally it is perhaps less reminiscent of the original church, but inside emerges spell work clearly showing the original church size.
Getting there by car:
Follow E16 westwards from Fagernes and 1.5 km beyond Ryfoss. Here, take the county road 293. After 2 km you see the church. Parking on the upper side of the church.
The stave churches in Valdres
In Norway, the period most often referred to as medieval times is the era from the christening of the country, starting with the battle at Stiklestad in 1030, to the Reformation in 1537. During this period, Norway was a Catholic country. The first churches that were built had no foundation, and poles and boards were dug directly into the ground. After a while, the woodwork would start to rot from underneath, and the churches had to be replaced. The building technique, which was common in Northern Europe and Russia, was developed further and improved until the style we today consider as typical Norwegian was achieved. In Norway, one of the most important improvements was to raise the walls from the ground and place them on waterproof foundation logs known as "syllstokkar". The churches became more resilient, and due the combination of this new technique, the climate and excellent building materials, many of them are still standing today. It was during the period from 1150 to the Black Death in 1350, the new building technique was developed. Historically, we know that there have been 18 stave churches in Valdres. Still we have 6 of Norways 28 stave churches.
The old pilgrim route from Hedalen Stave Church to the St.Thomas Church at Filefjell has now been reopened and way-marked. Walking the approx.162 km long route will take 7-8 days. The road leads past the stave churches in Hedalen, Reinli, Lomen, Høre and Øye, as well as the stone churches from medieval times in Ulnes, Mo and Slidre. You can join organized tours each summer, or walk by yourself.