Stavanger Cathedral

Date: ca. 1125 to 1150
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Norway
Medium: Stone
Description: The first cathedral in Norway was built in the early decades of the twelfth century on top of a Viking settlement. Whereas previous churches in Scandinavia had been built of wood, the seat of the new bishopric at Stavanger was made of stone. It was probably erected by a bishop named Reinald who had previously been a monk at Winchester, in England, where a new stone cathedral was consecrated in 1093. Stavanger's cathedral was dedicated to St. Swithun, who was also the patron saint at Winchester. After Stavanger, all Norwegian cathedrals were built of stone. Following a fire in 1272, the church was extensively rebuilt.

Inside the cathedral, the squat columns have scalloped capitals with figural carvings that include hybrid creatures, such as the manticore, and scenes from Norse mythology. Both the material—stone masonry—and the presence of architectural sculpture aligned the new cathedrals in Norway with churches built elsewhere in western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 7
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

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Stavanger Cathedral, west entrance Stavanger Cathedral, nave Stavanger Cathedral, capital with manticore Stavanger Cathedral, capital with mythological scene