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 Borgund Stave Church

Borgund Stave Church is a stave church located in the village of Borgund in the municipality of Lærdal. It is classified as a triple nave stave church of the Sogn-type. The church is part of the Borgund parish in the Indre Sogn deanery in the Diocese of Bjørgvin. No longer regularly used for church functions, it is now a museum run by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments.

Borgund Stave Church was built sometime between 1180 and 1250 AD with later additions and restorations. Its walls are formed by vertical wooden boards, or staves, hence the name "stave church". The four corner posts are connected to one another by ground sills, resting on a stone foundation. The intervening staves rise from the ground sills; each is tongued and grooved, to interlock with its neighbours and form a sturdy wall.

Borgund is built on a basilica plan, with reduced side aisles, and an added chancel and apse. It has a raised central nave demarcated on four sides by an arcade. An ambulatory runs around this platform and into the chancel and apse, both added in the 14th century. An additional ambulatory, in the form of a porch, runs around the exterior of the building, sheltered under the overhanging shingled roof. The floor plan of this church resembles that of a central plan, double-shelled Greek cross with an apse attached to one end in place of the fourth arm. The entries to the church are in the three arms of the almost-cross.

Several runic inscriptions are found on the walls of the Church´s west portal. One reads: Thor wrote these runes in the evening at the St. Olav´s Mass. Another reads "Ave Maria".

A new Borgund Church was built in 1868 right next to the old church, and the old church has not been in ordinary use since that year. Borgund Stave Church was bought by the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments in 1877. The first guidebook in English for the stave church was published in 1898.

The church served as the inspiring example for the reconstruction of the Fantoft Stave Church in Fana, in 1883 and for its rebuilding in 1997. The Gustav Adolf Stave Church in Hahnenklee, Germany, built in 1908, is modeled on the Borgund church. Two replicas exist in the United States, one at Chapel in the Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota., another in Lyme, Connecticut.

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