Kaupanger stave church

Kaupanger Stave Church (Norwegian: Kaupanger stavkyrkje) is the largest stave church in Sogn og Fjordane, and is situated in the town of Kaupanger, Norway. The nave is supported by 22 staves, 8 on each of the longer sides and 3 on each of the shorter. The elevated chancel is carried by 4 free standing staves. The church has the largest number of staves to be found in any one stave church. It is still in use as a parish church, having been in use continuously since its erection.

Kaupanger Stave Church was built in the 12th century, and is situated on the ruins of what might be two previous post churches. Kaupanger was a market town that King Sverre burned down in 1184 to punish the local inhabitants for disobeying him. It was previously thought that the stave church previously standing on this site burned down in this fire, as archaeological research in the 1960s revealed that the previous church had burned down. The present church was therefore believed to have been built around 1190. Recent research has changed these assumptions. Dendrochronology has shown that the timber used for building the church was cut in 1137. Also, Sverris saga makes no mention of the burning of the church at the time the town was burnt. Consequently, it is now assumed that the church was built around 1150.

Several restoration projects have taken place both inside the church and on the exterior, but in spite of these changes, the medieval construction has been preserved. The pulpit, altarpiece and font are all from the 17th century. In 1984, composer Arne Nordheim was inspired by the neumes and the sound of the medieval bells in Kaupanger stave church in composing the work Klokkesong, which was first performed inside the church as part of the 800th commemoration of the Battle of Fimreite.