Terje Holm


The stave church that rewrote history

Long and narrow, with diagonal external posts supporting the walls, Kvernes stave church has sweeping views of the mountains and fjord. It is clad in weatherboards of the kind typical of Western Norway and painted red. Kvernes stave church made history in 2020, when new research found that the church was built in 1633, and not, as previously thought, in the late 14th century. This makes Kvernes very special: It is the only stave church in Norway built after the Middle Ages.
63,0054606 7,7218109
Stavkirkeveien 43, Averøy, 6531

Averøy, Kristiansund, Nordmøre.

Owned by the National Trust of Norway since 1896. 

A beautiful church interior with a plaque commemorating its founder. Kvernes shows that the stave technique was still in use after the Reformation in 1537. The church appears to have been built in its entirety around 1631–1633, and several different building techniques were used. The nave and baptismal booth are built in the stave technique, while the chancel is cog-jointed. The minister Anders Erichsen (born 1576, died 1662), who also owned a sawmill, was a key figure in the building of this church. A plaque in the nave dated 1633 commemorates Erichsen’s contribution to the building work.

When you enter the simple and undecorated doorway cut out of the planks of the wall, you see this plaque and the closed Renaissance pews with panel doors and decorated ends. Your gaze is drawn to the votive ship, a model of the 32-gun frigate Nordstjernen, hanging from the ceiling. The walls and ceiling of the distinctive long, low church are decorated with yellow and grey acanthus leaves painted on a red background. The opening between the nave and the chancel bears the monogram of King Christian VI and a 17th-century crucifix. Like the nave, the chancel has decorated walls and ceiling, but the drapery decoration and scenes from the Bible are less well preserved, having been painted over and later partially uncovered. The altarpiece is from 1695, and the late-medieval (1475–1510) triptych depicts Mary with the infant Jesus and her mother Anna.

The Møre type stave church with diagonal external support posts. Kvernes stave church is of what is known as the Møre type. One or more pairs of intermediate posts in the side walls and an absence of reinforcement in the corners and other joints in the building are characteristic of this type. This makes the building less stable against lateral pressure, which is why it is necessary to have diagonal external support post, known as skorder, to support the walls.

Things to do in the area. The island municipality of Averøy just outside Kristiansund has a lot to offer. Kvernes Rural Museum near Kvernes stave church, rock carvings, opportunities for walks and water activities. Kvernes is a stop on the Fjord Pilgrim route from Stavanger to Nidaros. Averøy is also the gateway to the unique Atlantic Road

Sources: "Stave Church Architecture as Sacred Memory" Linn Willetts Borgen UiO 2020/ www.riksantikvaren.no /kirker/stavkirker/ stavechurch.com / Kirker i Norge volume 4 Leif Anker ARFO 2005 / En reise gjennom norsk byggekunst ed. Terje Forseth. The National Trust of Norway, 1994.