stavkirke (stäfˈkērˌkĕ) [key] [Nor.], medieval wooden church building of Scandinavian countries. Of hundreds erected in the 11th, 12th, and 13th cent., only a score survive, and these are all in Norway. Their architecture is unique: upturned dragon heads terminate gables; elaborate wood carvings illustrate saga myths as well as biblical stories; pagodalike shingled roofs, small surrounding cloisters, and leper windows (small openings through a chancel arch or wall) are other features. Examples are Hitterdal in Telemark, Fantoft near Bergen (destroyed by fire in 1994 and now rebuilt), and Borgund near Sogne Fjord.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on stavkirke from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Architecture