02 August 2008

Find beauty and charm

The Britannica Concise Encyclopedia states that a stave church is a, “type of medieval Norwegian wooden church. The stone foundation supports four horizontal wooden members, from which rise four corner posts, or staves, which are joined together by four upper crossbeams. From this boxlike frame, timbers extend outward, supporting a series of uprights, or masts. There may be four or more ranks of masts, with an equal number of triangular frames of diminishing size rising above them.”

At one time there were well over a thousand stave churches in Norway alone, others have been found in Sweden and England, but now less than thirty churches remain standing. Today, in addition to the original Norwegian churches, replicas have been created throughout Norway, Denmark, and the United States.

Though the history of these churches is fascinating, their legends are even more grand. Heddal stave church has one such tale of how it was built. As the story goes, there were five farmers who decided to erect a church in the valley. Ruad Rygi was one of these farmers and one day he met a stranger who offered to construct the church. This stranger had one condition, when the church was completed Raud had two options of how to pay the stranger; bring him the sun and the moon, and the blood of Raud’s heart or guess the stranger’s name. Raud agreed to the deal, believing the construction time would give him more than enough time to find out the man’s name.

Yet, after the first night all of the church’s timbers were placed. Over the course of the second night the church’s tower was raised. And the third night brought the completion of the church. Raud, afraid he would have to lose his own life, took a walk through the fields attempting to come up with a plan to guess the strangers name. While on the walk, Raud heard a beautiful song emerging from a nearby mountain.

“Hush, hush, little baby do –
Tomorrow father, Finn, will bring to you,
Moon and sun and Christian heart
As toys for you, so nice and smart.”

With the mystery solved, Raud not only saved his life, but had succeeded in bringing Heddal its church. As for the builder, Finn, he turned out to be a troll who could not stand the sound of the church bells and, as a result, moved his family to a mountain a little further away.

Perhaps we should all take a little more note of the trolls in our lives, especially when the haunt doorways of our churches, like this little fellow hiding in plain sight above the stave church in Epcot’s Norway.


Princess Fee said...

Yet another interesting and insightful post! And another item I have missed in my exploration of Walt Disney World! I think this trip in September will see me ignoring my fellow travellers and looking all over the place!

Craig Wheeler said...

I never saw the troll before. This is a great little tale.