Photo: Anders Kvåle Rue

Heddal Stave Church is situated near Notodden, Telemark. It is the largest stave church in Norway. 25 meters long and 17 meters wide. With 3 turrets and standing 29 meters tall, it has the impressive appearance of a wooden cathedral. The building is constructed of ore-pine timber, some of which dates back to around the year 1000, but the church itself has been erected sometime in the 13th century.
During catholic times this church was dedicated to St Mary.
Heddal Stave Church is still the functioning parish church, and during the summer months it is used for services, baptisms, confirmations, and weddings.

The church is an intriguing example of how places of worship were created in early Christian times. Architecture and wood carvings show a remarkably combination of biblical motifs and pre-christian beliefs.

Along the exterior gallery you can see fantastic woodcarvings around the four entrance doors. Powerful symbols are designed to scare off evil powers and invite people into the sanctuary of the church. One door is for men, one for women, one for the clergy and one in the west for processions. Today the west entrance is the only one in use.
Also in the exterior gallery wall are carved runes, house marks, and an archbishops’ cross.

There have been several reconstructions of this church. The latest one, in the years 1952-1954 sought to restore it to the appearance of medieval times. In today’s church one can observe elements from the different centuries. Here are incense burner from the middle ages, an altar from 1667, as well as benches and lamps from 1950. The walls of the nave are painted with floral decoration from the 17th century. Apostles in full figure decorate the chancel. From the top of the columns, 23 friendly medieval mask heads smile down at the congregation.

Originally three distinctive pieces of furniture were placed in the chancel, all containing motifs from the legend of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer. This myth has functioned as a link between pagan tales and Christian teachings.
The bishop’s chair is still here with carvings representing Brunhilde, and her suitors Gunnar and Sigurd on either side.
A replica of the original “Brugde-bench” is also at display. The front is decorated with busts of Sigurd and Brunhilde. On the back we see “Gunnar in the snake pit”. A copy has also been made of the so-called “Klokkarpulten”, a magnificent lectern with carvings depicting Sigurd between a lion and a dragon.

Near the stave church lies Låvekyrkja (the barn-church) which contains both a room for services, a café and various thematic exhibitions. At walking distance from the church is also Heddal bygdetun, an open-door museum with old farm houses and changing exhibitions.

Opening Hours 2024

18th of May – 20th of June, 10:00-16:00

21st of June – 20th of August 10:00 – 17:00

21th of August -20th of September 10:00-16:00

The stavechurch may be closed saturdays and sundays due to weddings or service. Visit for definite opening hours.

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