Photo: Dagfinn Rasmussen

Uvdal Stave Church as it stands today has not kept its original appearance, but represents the result of constant extensions and alterations up to the 19th century. The church was probably built at the end of the 12th century. Another interesting find was clear holes in the ground from posts from an even older building, probably a church too. In one of the holes lay two coins from the beginning of the same century, evidence to suggest the age of the first church. What it looked like or how large it was, we do not know.

In the beginning Uvdal Stave Church was built with one simple room – an almost square nave in which the belfry was borne by a central post. The chancel was quite small and ended in a semicircular apse. Nore and Uvdal Stave Churches are the only ones we have at preserved with this construction, but we know that the stave churches at Nes and Flå in Hallingdal were built in accordance with the same principle, and possibly Veggli as well. Finds on the site show that the church had a pentise round it.

In 1656 the whole church was decorated for the first time. On the bottom part of the walls rows of arches were painted in Renaissance style. Above these arches runs a text field with verses from the Bible, followed by fields with flowers, fruits and leaves above that. The ceiling was also decorated with the dense vine-like pattern we can still see. The name of the skilful artist is unknown, but we can see that he had European models for his work. The colours he used were ochre, red, grey and white.

As early as 1684 the next alteration took place. At that time the chancel was enlarged to its present width. The panels in the chancel were cut off and used again, and the new parts were decorated as far as possible just like the old ones. However, there was a difference. The verses from the Bible in the mid field were done away with, and the floral decoration was not equally skilfully painted. Possibly the depiction of the Fall in the chancel was painted at the same time.

Today the doorway leading into the church is protected by the porch. It is not known whether it was carved when the church was new. This portal bears a certain resemblance to the magnificent door still standing behind the panelling in the main building at Mellom-Kravik (13th century) roughly 10 kilometres further south in the valley. Both have motifs from the legends of the Volsungs. On the right side of the church portal we can see Gunnar in the snake pit, with his hands bound behind his back, playing the harp with his feet in the hope of lulling the serpents to sleep. On the left there is a carved vine-like motif issuing from the jaws of a beast. At the top a dragon engages in the combat.

In the porch a portal has been presented. This one is believed to be older. It stood outside in front of the door of the chancel facing south. Originally it had stood inside the church between the nave and the chancel. This portal is special because the vine-like ornamentation is openwork – today damaged by the sun and rain after having been exposed to the weather for many years.

Until 1620 the only light coming into the church was let in through portholes high up, but in that year the first two windows were put in. Not until 1624 were pews installed for the congregation. Before that time there were only pews fitted along the walls of the nave. It is not clear when the church got its pulpit and alter piece, but we know that the pulpit was there in 1656. The altar piece, with a painting of the Last Supper, is the work of a local artist. The model was the altar piece in Lyngdal Church, which came from the old church in Kongsberg.

The crucifix on the chancel beam was probably carved by a rural artist in the 14th century. A particularly interesting item is an approximately 30 cm high crucifix of bronze and enamel, which also stood in the church. It came from Limoges in France, and it was made during the 13th century. Today it has been deposited in the University Museum of National Antiquities in Oslo together with the censer belonging to the church. We may well wonder how such a treasure found its way to a remote valley.

Opning hours 2024
Season 1st of June – 31st of August
Open from 10:00 to 18:00 every day.
Guided tours, prices can include local museum bygdetun.


Adults: NOK 100,- (stave church + bygdetun)

Children: (1-16 Year olds) FREE (accompanied by adult)

Groups: (min 10 people)
NOK 90,- (stave church + bydgetun)
NOK 80,- (stave church only)

Jorunn Wiik

Ottar Huseby
Only to be used if strictly necessary


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