Øye Stave Church Cultural Heritage

  • Øye stavkyrkje. Skyrifjellet bak

    Øye stavkyrkje. Skyrifjellet bak Photo: Morten Helgesen

  • Øye stavkyrkje

    Øye stavkyrkje Photo: Morten Helgesen

Essential info

  • Destination: Valdres
  • Season: April–November

About Øye Stave Church

Øye Stave Church was probably built towards the end of 1100 century. Its original location was in the fields facing Vangsmjøsa to the northwest. On that low area flooding filled the graves with water and rocks had to be put on coffins not allowing them to float. The church was in a poor state of repair, and in 1747 the the new Øye Church was adopted. The old one disappeared for nearly 200 years. In the 1930s work had to be done on the foundations of the new Øye Church, and under the its floor, 156 pieces of the old stave church was found. No one knows why it was stored here. At last it was decided to erect the old stave church and in 1965 it was consecrated.Today, the old church is used for weddings and Midsummer Mass only. The church has a strong Catholic medieval character with a narrow opening to the choir and pews along the walls only. It features copies of two medieval portals (probably from the 1100s) with capitals and numerous animal decorations. The door has a medieval ring handle. On the altar stands a crucifix dating back to the 1200s, featuring a Christ-figure from the 1300s.The wooden baptismal font from the 1300s is quite unique, and one of the pews in the choir may be from the Middle Ages. Getting there by car: Øye Stave Church is located in the western end of the lake Vangsmjøsa, close by the main road, E16. Parking at 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.

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