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Ringebu Stave Church

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The stave church at Ringebu, built c.1220, is one of 28 surviving stave churches and is one of the largest in Norway and located 60 km north of Lillehammer.

The stave church at Ringebu, built c.1220, is one of 28 surviving stave churches and is one of the largest in Norway and located 60 km north of Lillehammer.

Christianity was introduced into Norway around the year 1000 A.D. From then on during the middle ages until 1537, approximately 1000 stave churches were built. The Church in Norway was Roman Catholic at that time. The stave church at Ringebu, built c.1220, is one of 28 surviving stave churches and is one of the largest. Stave churches are irreplaceable cultural monuments and it is only in Norway that so many have survived. Characteristic for a stave church is that it has vertical posts and wall planks resting upon sills (ground beams).

This is known as a stave wall. No nails were used in the construction. All joints were dovetailed. The St. Andrew crosses and the rounded arches act as braces, strengthening the construction. Of the original building only the nave remains and this has pillars (posts) also in the inner area.

Built in the first quarter of the 13th century, the church is first mentioned in 1270, although it could be older. It was rebuilt into a cruciform church around 1630 by master-builder Werner Olsen (ca. 1600-1682) and in 1631 received its characteristic red tower. [4]

Of the original church only the nave remains, with free-standing posts in the inner area. Later restoration in 1921 brought it back a bit closer to its original shape. The church was painted in 1717, but only the lower half of the walls were done, since the ceiling at that time was lower. At one point the church was painted white within, but during the restoration work by Ragnvald Einbu in 1921 the church interior was restored to its original colouring.

There have been some archaeological surveys of the ground under the church. The last one took place in 1980-1981. These surveys have resulted in the finding of about 900 old coins, mostly from medieval times, especially from the period 1217-1263. Post holes from an older church have also been found. The post church is assumed to be a forerunner of the stave church. The earth-bound posts of these churches were planted directly into the ground, and therefore they were exposed to humidity which caused them to rot over the years.

Ringebu is a municipality in Oppland county, Norway. It is part of the traditional region of Gudbrandsdal. The administrative centre of the municipality is the village of Vålebru.

The municipality of Ringebu was established on 1 January 1838. The area of Sollia was separated from Ringebu municipality to become a municipality of its own in 1864.

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