13) Borgund Stave Church, Norway
This delightful church is regarded as the best example of the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway. Stave churches—built with wooden boards, or staves—were constructed by the Vikings during the late 12th and mid-13th centuries. It is estimated that as many as 2000 pieces of logs, timber, and boards were used in the construction of the Borgund Stave church. The Vikings built the church on stone foundations, which better protected the stave boards against rot. The church was designed after the Vikings had turned away from the “old customs”, or folk paganism, and the carvings on Borgund reflect this shift in beliefs. The church also has four dragon heads emerging from the roof gables. These dragonheads are reminiscent of those that adorned the bows of the ancient Viking ships and likely served as safeguards against evil life forces.
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