Lavishly decorated interior and exciting archaeological finds under the church floor

Uvdal stave church dates from 1168, and its tarred wooden exterior hides a very special atmosphere. When you pass through the portal decorated with motifs from medieval heroic poetry, you enter an elaborately decorated church interior with remarkably vibrant colours. Sumptuous decoration over centuries has created a harmonious whole.
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Kirkebygda 111, Uvdal , 3632

Uvdal, Buskerud (Viken)

Owned by the National Trust of Norway since 1901.

Centuries of extensions and modifications. The church as it stands today is the result of frequent extensions and alterations up until the 1800s. Each century has added something and helped to make the church a beautiful and rare example of how architectural styles and decor from different periods can merge into a sumptuous and harmonious whole.

The colourful painted decoration in the nave and chancel of Uvdal stave church was painted from the mid-17th century and through the 19th century. The walls are painted in Renaissance and Baroque style with lavish flowers and fruits, and the ceilings are covered in plump leaves. The arch that used to be the opening to the apse was painted with a simple depiction of the fall of man, with Adam and Eve and the snake in the Garden of Eden.

The magnificent western portal bears a motif from the Volsunga Saga showing Gunnar in the snake pit with his hands tied behind his back playing the harp with his toes to stop the snakes from biting. This portal is part of a 13th-century extension to the church. Little remains of the medieval furnishings except for a wooden baptismal font. However, excavations under the church carried out in 1978 as part of work to secure its foundations, yielded interesting archaeological finds of well-preserved medieval graves. These graves provided insight into folklore, burial customs and burial clothing, and the textiles found here are some of the best preserved medieval textiles found in Norway.

Things to do in the area: Uvdal stave church is part of Nore og Uvdal open-air museum, and tickets are sold in the charming café in the old school house. Numedalen valley is known as the medieval valley with its stave churches and medieval log buildings. The National Trust of Norway also owns Nore stave church. Visit Norway 

Sources: The Directorate for Cultural Heritage's Stave Church Preservation Programme. Uvdal stave church. Fact sheet. Kirker i Norge. Anker, Leif and Havran, Jiri. ARFO 2005 / En reise gjennom norsk byggekunst ed. Terje Forseth. The National Trust of Norway, 1994.