Værnes Church, Norway c 1085

Nidaros Domkirken
Nidaros Cathedral

One attraction that everyone comes to see in Trondheim, Norway, is Nidaros Cathedral and yet it is the nearby Værnes church in Storjdal that, for me, holds more fascination, at least in a historical sense.


Not only does the Værnes Church have a purpose-built ‘Weapons House,’ that dates back to Viking times, but  you get to see Viking age architecture in regular daily use and see some of Scandinavia’s earliest church frescoes.

Weapon house
The Weapon House

In the 11th Century, any self respecting, newly Christianized, Viking carried with them a range of knives, axes and other paraphernalia used in defence, and weapons such as these were banned from Church. When the Priest really wanted the new Christians to attend Church, he had to provide a purpose built structure to safely lock up any instruments of death. And so the Weapons House was built. Ten centuries on, I believe the ‘House,’ now accommodates nothing more deadly than a garden hoe or lawn cutter.   [Watch out for your toes].

Photo credit Spottinghistory.com

The interior of the church takes the visitor straight back to the 11th Century and is every bit as unique as the Weapon House. The roof trusses, pictured below, span 11 metres and are completely original. This is Viking carpentry at its finest and it is the only original roof of its type, still in existence. Notably, the trusses were used as a design template in reconstructing the roof of Nidaros cathedral and Håkonshall in Bergen.

Værnes kirke, Stordal, Norway
Værnes Church at Stjørdal dates back to 1085 AD and is the oldest church in Norway.

What you see above you, at Værnes, is what a Viking saw ten centuries ago.

A raised and carved chair (c 1685), see above, was constructed as the private pew of General Von Schultz, the local Squire. It makes me slightly recoil to tell you this but, the wooden lattice ‘cage’ below was for the wives to sit, ( either Von Schultz or the Pastor’s wife. It is embarrassingly even referred to as a ‘wife’s cage.’ Awful, I know, but that is history.

Detail in the carving

Faces carved into the interior of this elevated chair are thought to depict the face of Von Schultz, but no one is quite sure of that. To me, some of them more resembled a gargoyle or the “north wind.”

Vaernes kirke
Frescoes on the walls of the church in Stjørdal

The wall mural  pre-dates the carved pulpit and is also original. Echoes of a world now past.

The significance of this fresco is lost in time

A fresco on the wall that looks like a hood from a pulpit remains a mystery to historians. The meaning and significance of this symbol has been lost.

Threatened by the Nazis during the war years, with their intensive infrastructure plans for a military base and airport, at Trondheim, Værnes Church survived and is still used for church services today. In fact, the church is so popular for baptisms and weddings, it is booked out many months and sometimes, years in advance.

Trondheim Værnes
Værnes Kirke – Just outside Trondheim airport

Make a small detour from Værnes Lufthavn, (Trondheim airport), to Stjørdal, in Norway and you can walk the path of history.

Entrance to the church

Værnes Kirke is an important link to the past and something to ponder about. Linking to Jo’s Monday Walks – a tad earlier

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18 thoughts on “Værnes Church, Norway c 1085

  1. Pingback: Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past 02 | Lost in Translation

  2. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : A very traditional village | restlessjo

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