Nordic Stave Church Architecture Analytical Essay by Colby

Analyzes the historic-architectural value of early Nordic stave churches.
# 150820 | 915 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Apr 26, 2012 in Architecture (Buildings) , Architecture (European) , Architecture (History)

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This paper explains that the architecture of the Norwegian stave church, built mostly between the tenth and eleventh centuries, marks the transition of the Norwegian people from paganism to Christianity. Next, the author describes the construction techniques of the Stave church, which are simple in design but become increasingly advanced in skill level and craftsmanship as examples progress from the tenth century to later centuries. The paper underscores that the most striking feature of stave church architecture is its dedication to using only wood as the building material, which creates one of this architecture's most important qualities of honest and appropriate response to its physical surroundings. An annotated bibliography is included in the paper.

From the Paper:

"Stave churches are pure manifestations of their surroundings. They rise out of the dark and forbidding landscape as "natural outcroppings of a mysterious land". They are dark and precipitous complementing the areas which they inhabit. The strong element of verticality that dominates them reflects the authority and power of the surrounding mountains and the use of rustic timber throughout expresses the Norwegians' dependence on heir most abundant natural resource; wood. Early, stave churches were simple structures being rectangular and consisting of a nave sometimes accompanied by a smaller chancel. As building techniques progressed verticality became more of a focus and central-mast systems were developed to increase height and form layered stories (pagoda-like in effect) which culminated in a spire reaching for the heavens. Stave churches are meant to draw the eye upward both to the exterior and the interior. Exterior elements are almost entirely limited to the vertical direction. Large wall planks enclosing the churches run vertically, hand-cut wooden shingles are taller than they are wide demanding upward movement, and like the ancient ziggurats the peaks of a stave church become progressively narrower as they move upward drawing the eye and giving onlookers the impression that the church is extending itself skyward.

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brondsted, Johannes. The Vikings. Trans. Kalle Skov. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1965. Questia. Web. 9 Sept. 2010.
  • Holan, Jerri. Norwegian Wood: a Tradition of Building. New York: Rizzoli, 1990. Print.
  • Matthews, Kevin. "Norwegian Stave Church - Vernacular - Great Buildings Online." Architecture Design Architectural Images History Models and More - ArchitectureWeek Great Buildings. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. <>
  • Hauge, Arild. "NORWEGIAN STAVE CHURCHES." Arild Hauges Runer. 2002. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. <>.
  • "Stave Churches." Norway - the Official Site in the United States. The Norwegian Museum of Architecture. Web. 13 Sept. 2010. <>.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Nordic Stave Church Architecture (2012, April 26) Retrieved December 07, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Nordic Stave Church Architecture" 26 April 2012. Web. 07 December. 2023. <>