The Secrets Behind the Doors of Lom Stave Church in Norway

Lom Stave Church

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verificationVerified Expert

    Nestled within the heart of Norway, a country renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and profound historical tales stands the enigmatic Lom Stave Church. Our intimate knowledge of Norway uniquely positions us to take you on a deep-dive exploration of this cultural gem. 

    Norway's landscape is dotted with stave churches and medieval wooden churches that offer a window into the past. The Lom Stave Church, in particular, emerges as a prime example of this architectural marvel, encapsulating centuries of history and mysticism. 

    This blog aims to unwrap the secrets cloaked within its walls, setting the scene for its mystical allure and significance in Norway's cultural and historical tapestry. Join us as we unearth the stories of devotion, craftsmanship, and community that have persevered through the ages.

    Lom Stave Church in Norway

    The History of Lom Stave Church 

    Lom Stave Church is among the largest and oldest stave churches in Norway. Erected in the Middle Ages, specifically around the mid-12th century, it has stood the test of time, serving as the centerpiece of Lom's spiritual life since its inception. Dendrochronology, a scientific method of dating tree rings, places the church's origins securely between 1158 and 1159. 

    Initially constructed in the Romanesque style, it served as the principal church for the northern Gudbrandsdal district, a pivotal pilgrimage station during the Middle Ages. The church witnessed significant expansions in 1634 and 1663, enhancing its structure with expansions westward and the addition of cross-arms and a tower. 

    Remarkably, most of the interior furnishings are from the 18th century, showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship of wood carver Jakop Sæterdalen. It houses the most extensive collection of paintings found in any Norwegian church, with Eggert Munch contributing significantly to this treasure trove. 

    The Treasures Inside Lom Stave Church 

    Stepping inside Lom Stave Church is like walking into a treasure trove of medieval wonders that echo the church's storied past. It's not just about the ancient stave construction; the church houses an impressive collection of artifacts, each with its own tale.

    • Original medieval decorations: The intricate beauty of the church is highlighted by decorations that originally decorated it. While copies crafted in 1964 are publicly displayed, the authentic pieces have been carefully preserved as part of the church's exhibition, letting history buffs get a closer look.
    • Reliquary: Among its sacred items is a copper-gilded wood reliquary from 1250, revered for its craftsmanship and spiritual significance.
    • Runes: The church's walls whisper the secrets of the past, with visible traces of runes from the original builders, offering a direct connection to those who constructed this marvel.
    • Archaeological findings: A 1973 excavation revealed a surprising collection of 2,270 coins dating from 1200 to 1300, marking the largest collection of old coins discovered in Norway. Adding a touch of romance to the church's history, a love message inscribed on a stick using runes was unearthed, proving that love truly does stand the test of time.

    Inside Lom Stave Church in Norway

    Architectural Wonders of the Lom Stave Church 

    Lom Stave Church's architectural splendor is quite the draw, standing out with its distinctive stave construction. The heart of this church beats within its central room, which is intricately elevated, featuring a myriad of interior staves extending majestically from the floor all the way to the roof—kind of like ancient trees reaching towards the heavens. 

    Originally, this architectural masterpiece boasted a gallery wrapping around its exterior, though this was removed in mid-1600 expansions. Now, if you've got a thing for dragons, you'll love the carved dragon heads adorning the roof, a throwback to the church's inception. These aren't your garden-variety decor; they're steeped in history. 

    While the original dragon heads now reside at the Stave Church Exhibition in Lom, you'll find the top dragon head on the east side and the ridge pole over the choir are 1964 replicas, paying homage to the church's storied past.

    Discovering Lom Stave Church's Location in Norway 

    Tucked away in the serene village of Fossbergom, near the majestic Jotunheimen National Park, lies the venerable Lom Stave Church. This old church isn't just a monument; it's a beacon that draws visitors deep into Norway's soul-stirring panoramas. 

    Getting there is an adventure, with options like trains to Lillehammer followed by a scenic bus ride, but here's a thought – why not rent a campervan in Norway? It's a brilliant strategy! Not only does it offer the freedom to explore at your own pace, but imagine the savings. 

    Cooking your meals amidst Norway's unparalleled beauty, and sleeping under a sky strewn with stars? It turns a visit into an odyssey, making Lom Stave Church and its surroundings an experience etched in memory.

    Lom Church in Norway

    How to Visit and Experience Lom Stave Church 

    Visiting Lom Stave Church is an experience that seamlessly blends the awe of ancient architecture with the allure of historical exploration. Here are a few tips for travelers looking to immerse themselves in this unique cultural experience:

    • Best times to visit: While the church welcomes visitors year-round, the optimal times to visit are between May and September. During these months, the weather is most favorable, and the church's surroundings are at their most picturesque.
    • Open Guided Tours Available: For individuals not traveling with a group, the church offers open guided tours. These tours are a fantastic way to engage with the site's history and architecture on a deeper level.
    • No Pre-booking Needed: During the bustling summer season, open tours are available daily. The convenience of not requiring pre-booking means you can plan your visit with greater flexibility.
    • Explore Impressive Architecture & History: The guided tours provide an intimate look at the church's exquisite craftsmanship and narrate the stories encapsulated within its walls.
    • Interactive Learning Experience: With knowledgeable guides at the ready, visitors can enrich their experience by asking questions and uncovering the myriad stories and facts that make Lom Stave Church a living museum.

    Lom Church

    Why Visit Lom Stave Church 

    Lom Stave Church stands as one of the biggest stave constructions, symbolizing the rich tapestry of Norway's medieval architecture and cultural heritage. Preserving such historical sites is essential for future generations to understand and appreciate the craftsmanship and stories of our ancestors. 

    Visitors to Lom Stave Church are granted a unique look into the past, where architecture and artistry converge, offering lessons in history, religion, and human ingenuity. This church is more than a monument; it's a profound educational experience that connects us to centuries-old traditions. 

    For travelers exploring Norway, it's a must-visit destination, embodying the heart and soul of Norwegian heritage while inspiring awe and reverence for the preservation of our global cultural treasures.

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