Faroe Islands, Kirkjubøur

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Faroe Islands, Kirkjubøur

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Moss covered bone as guard rail Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.
Above: Moss covered bone

Among the most important historical sites in the Faroe Islands is the village of Kirkjubøur. There are two churches in the village, one in ruins, Magnus Cathedral, dating from 1300:

Magnus Cathedral shown with temporary structure. The cathedral has never had a roof and the walls are thinning. In order to preserve the interior features, plans for a roof are underway. Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Lancet arches at Magnus Cathedral, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands. The visible wood is part of a renovation.

Gothic wall sculpture at Magnus Cathedral, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

This medieval relief is on a wall at Magnus Cathedral, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Mortar detail at Magnus Cathedral, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Gothic wall sculpture at Magnus Cathedral, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Detail of the mortar in the Magnus Cathedral at Kirkjubøur. This cathedral was built in 1300 and never finished. It has never had a roof, but a temporary structure has been put in place to shore up the walls while a renovation is taking place. Even ruins need upkeep.

Croix pattée alésée on a wall at Magnus Cathedral, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

The other church, Olavskirkjan (Olav’s Church), from sometime in the 11th century:

Olav's Church, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

The Olavskirkjan has striking and unusual art, including the church gate:

The stained glass church gate at Olav's Church, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Modern, almost impressionistic stained glass panel in the church gate at Olva's Church, Kirkjubøur.

Modern, almost impressionistic stained glass panel in the church gate at Olav's Church, Kirkjubøur.

One of the church features that struck me was a single wall of windows. Most churches we’d been to had windows on both sides of the sanctuary. I wondered why the windows were on the most exposed wall of the church, facing the sea. I was wracking my brain for reasons and decided that I should quiet my mind and just take photos. The view from this window looks out to Hestur:

The wall that this window is in is the only wall with windows in the church at Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

For me, the most culturally rich part of our visit to Kirkjubøur was seeing the farmhouse or Kirkjubøargarður. It is said to be the oldest continually occupied wooden structure in the world, having been lived in since the mid 1500s. The house has stayed in one family, the Paturssons, for 17 generations. The oldest parts date to the 11th century.

Farmhouse at Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Entrance to the roykstova (smoke room) at Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands

Column detail on Kirkjubøargarður, the oldest building at Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Inside the farmhouse are several rooms full of interesting treasures:

King Sverre of Norway, born in a cave above Kirkjubøur. Looks like a ship's figurehead, literally, mounted on the interior wall of the roykstova, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.
Above: King Sverre of Norway, born in a cave above Kirkjubøur.

Door Flower

Bust inside the wooden room of the roykstova, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

On the interior wall of the roykstova, Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

Wood is at a premium in the Faroe Islands. There are no native trees and any you might find have been planted by humans. As such, wood for structures is usually imported. Any mistake in building would be costly, time consuming and given the nature of the weather, could possibly be life threatening. Jennifer Henke pointed out these markings to me as we made our way through the interior of the farmhouse:

The logs in the roykstova have indentations numbered to match the level of log. Shown is the three log making up the interior wall. Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

The logs in the roykstova have indentations numbered to match the level of log. Shown is the three log making up the interior wall. Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands.

We counted the logs and as Jennifer mentioned, the markings indicate which level the log is supposed to be. Shown above is level three and four. These were the easiest markings to see and shoot, but I noted a few others.

I’ve got a bunch more interior shots of the farmhouse and will share those in a separate post. I’ll leave you with this panorama created using 9 shots from my Canon 5D Mark III. Definitely view the larger image of this one:

Panorama at Kirkjubøur: Olav's church, dating to the 12th century, is visible on the right. This is 6 or 7 shots stitched together.

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