The Stave Church

Reconstruction of a stave church from the Viking Age

The earliest churches in Denmark

Denmark was officially christened in the year 965. The first churches here, built of wood, are known as stave churches, but as early as the 1100s these were replaced by stone-built churches. None of the early wooden churches in Denmark have been preserved. The reconstructed stave church at Moesgaard Museum is a qualified effort to demonstrate what the country’s earliest churches may have looked like.

Reconstruction of the stave church from Hørning

This reconstruction is based on traces of wooden wall posts and floor layers from a stave church. These traces were found in a modern church located in the small village of Hørning, located about 12 km southeast of Randers.

This is also where a famed archaeological artefact known as “the Hørning Plank” was found: an actual, surviving piece of wood from the hammer brace of the wooden church, on which the intertwined serpents decorating its surface are still clearly visible. The year rings in the wood have enabled its dating to around 1060, during the transition between the Viking Age and the Middle Ages.

The bell frame and the bell

During the autumn and winter season of 2003/2004, a bell frame was built for the reconstructed stave church. The reason for this addition was that the excavations in Hørning Church had also revealed traces of a bell frame located near the original stave church, to the west.

In 2005, Moesgaard Museum and Aarhus University collaborated on an experimental archaeology project to cast a bronze bell for the bell frame, following the method described by a Medieval monk named Theophilus. The resulting bell currently hangs in the bell frame.