The church at Moster, as drawn by Johan Meyer in 1897. (from: Nicolaysen, N. (1894-1899) Kunst og haandverk fra Norges fortid. Vol. IV. Kristiania, The Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments).
THE STONE CHURCH AT MOSTER
Moster is mentioned as a church site already in the time of Olav Tryggvason. According to the sagas the king is supposed to have laid the foundations for the first church at Moster when he came there in 995. That building would have been a stave church - the church standing there today – a stone church with a nave and narrower, straight chancel – was probably founded around 1100. In 1874 a new church was built at Moster. Then the old church was bought by The Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments, which is still the owner.
The church is built partly by quarried ashlar and partly by ordinary quarried stone. The west portal in the nave and the south portal in the chancel are simple, with straight lintels. The original window openings were small and high up, with a rounded finish. Two of these windows are still found in the church, but the others were extended to large, rectangular windows in 1732, with decorated panes. Externally the church has a cut sloping stone base. Internally the choir arc has ashlar plinths with cut profiles. In the nave there are still remains of the wall benches from the Middle Ages. The church space is otherwise marked by the interior from the 1600s, the altarpiece is from around 1630, and the pulpit from 1637. The church chairs and the gallery front with the depiction of the apostles are also from the 1600s.
On the walls in the nave we can see remains of early renaissance paintings, probably from the time around 1600, while the decorative painting in the chancel may be from the 1620s. Light, graceful bunches of fruit frame depictions of biblical scenes, which are now all but erased. In the church loft there is a bell from the Middle Ages with an engraved figure of St. Olav and the inscription: “AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA. DOMINUS TE(C)UM” (Be greeted Virgin Maria, full of grace. May the Lord be with you). A younger bell, now in the parish church, has the inscription “CHRISTO IESU SACRUM HOC DONARIUM EFFERTUR ANTE OMNIA DEUS SIT TIBI CURAE, ANNO 1660” (This holy gift was sacrificed to Jesus Christ. Let the Lord fill your heart more than anything else).
Grunnriss Moster kyrkje
Top view of the church at Moster, as drawn by Johan Meyer. (from: Nicolaysen, N. (1894-1899) Kunst og haandverk fra Norges fortid. Vol. IV. Kristiania, The Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments).
- Robberstad, K. (1973) Gamlakyrkjo: den gamle kyrkja på Moster i Sunnhordland. Oslo.
- Sinding-Larsen, E. (1969) Moster kirke i Sunnhordland. I: Foreningen til norske fortidsminnesmerkers bevaring, Årbok. Oslo, Foreningen, s. 90-93.