St. Olav´s church

Situated along Kystpilegrimsleia

Foto: Ørjan Iversen

St. Olav´s Church at Avaldsnes was built around 1250 by King Håkon Håkonsson

The church has been a landmark for seafarers travelling through Karmsund strait, during the past 750 years. It has been highlighted as a royal chapel, which also meant that it was included in the Privilege of Indulgence granted to the royal chapels. Then, the church has been a pilgrimage church. This is something we can learn from a pontifical privilege from 1308, which meant that those who visited the church during the important festive days, could be granted up to one year of indulgence. The church war built as a part of a bigger royal manor.

In the early 14th century, Håkon Magnusson converted St. Olav’s Church into a royal collegiate church – together with three other churches in Norway. A collegiate church was some sort of a royal «cathedral», or a university where the king was entitled to educate his own priests and consultants who then would be loyal to the king. The church was consecrated to Olav the Saint, Norway’s great saint and «eternal king». With this, king Håkon marked the ties back to the legendary saint and king. It is believed that St. Olav’s church had relics related to the saint and king, and it became an important pilgrimage church. St. Olav’s church has been built in the neo-Gothic style. A typical feature of this style are the lancet arches on the top of windows and portals. St. Olav’s Church at Avaldsnes has typological features that make us assume that the craftsmen came from the Bergen area. The profiles we find at St. Olav’s church, are characteristic for the period between 1250 and 1280. It is possible that Håkon Håkonsson used master builders from the building environment at Westminster Abbey in London for his building projects.