|Image from Wikipedia of |
the Borgund Church
While stave churches are interesting enough simply by virtue of their architecture, there are many carvings (graffiti) covering several hundred years and including pictures, such as stick figures, etched into their wooden walls. Among these churches, the Borgund Church caught my eye not only because it is the best preserved stave church (according to many sources), but because of some very early graffiti engraved there.
I refer, of course, to runic inscriptions. At least three runic inscriptions are legible inside the church. One says only, "Ava Maria."
In his book, Norwegian Runes and Runic Inscriptions, Terje Sperkland identified an inscription that asks god to help others, "May God help everyone who helps me on my journey."
It is the third inscription, however, which I find the most intriguing. It says, "Thorir carved these runes on the eve of St. Olaf's mass, as he travelled past here. The norns presented measures of good and evil, great toil they created before me."
I found this inscription referenced on three websites, but only one included the second sentence about the Norns. For me, that sentence is far more interesting than the first, because it indicates that, as late as the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century, long after worship of the ancient gods was supposed to have ceased, Thorir was writing about the Norns in a Christian church. Moreover, he sums them up quite accurately, telling us that they filled his life with good and evil and, it seems, many struggles.
|Tiwaz and |
If you are fortunate enough to visit one of these old churches, enjoy the architecture and history, but make sure to look around for subtle runic inscriptions, which offer their own twist on the experience.