Tanum kirke, Brunlanes
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Although Christianisation had been taking place in Norway for several decades, the Mosterting assembly of about 1024 is considered to be the formal introduction of Christianity. This was when King Olav Haraldsson (later St. Olav) and Bishop Grimkjell laid down the first Christian legal directives for the entire kingdom. Among other things, it was decided that the king would provide priests, while farmers would build churches.
The first churches, built in the 11th century, were simple post churches, with the corner posts dug into the ground. The made them susceptible to damp and rot. The stave church technique began to be used in the 12th century. Here the posts, or "staves", were set into a base construction of heavy beams resting on large stones. In this way, damp problems were avoided and many of these stave churches were able to stand for many centuries. There was a very widespread tradition in Norway of building timber churches. As many as 1,500 stave churches may have been built during the Middle Ages, but only 28 are preserved today. Haltdalen Stave Church is considered to be the prototype of the earliest type of stave church. The simple, long church design, with a nave and chancel, is the "original" design of our churches, whether in timber or stone.Elsewhere in Europe, churches were almost always built of stone. For this reason, important county churches or churches built in rich agricultural areas were also often built of stone here in Norway. Romanesque and Gothic influences can be seen in these churches. About 160 of the 270 stone churches built in Norway are still fully or partially preserved.