About Reinli stavkyrkje
Reinli Stave Church dates back to around 1326, but prior to this the site has been home to two other churches. In connection with Olaf Haraldsson journey through Valdres in 1023 is a reference to a church on Reinli. It is believed that there was a hoof in the same place before the first church.
The only remains left of the first church are graves, and the second must have burnt down or been demolished. Of the coins found under the church floor, the oldest are from King Håkon Håkonson’s reign, 1217-1263.
Reinli Stave Church still has 12 medieval consecration crosses. These have been painted black, and are believed to date back to around 1326. Reinli stave church is the only one in Norway with all 12 consecration crosses intact. The altarpiece is a medieval triptych, but it was painted in the 1890s and 1920s. A crucifix hangs on the choir wall. Fittings in wrought iron, the soapstone font and a bell in the belfry are all from the Middle Ages. The wall features a hatch for the leprous, which was used to let them confess and receive Holy Communion.
An inscription on the wall in the portico by the southern entrance to the choir tells us who was behind the new build or reconstruction in 1326. «Here rests Sira Thord who made this a better church. Pater Noster.»The inscription refers to a grave under the floor close by, and the grave is marked by small pieces of iron which together form a cross. This was when the church took its current shape. It is a parish church, but is only used during summer. For the rest of the year, the chapel further down the road is used.
Getting there by car: E16 to Bagn in Sør Aaurdal municipality. From here on county roads 220 for 3 km to Reinli.
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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