Some Medieval Graffiti in Gol Stavechurch
Gol stavechurch now lives at the Folk Museum in Oslo. It is great, go there if you can. If you can’t, click here to see the outside and here to see the inside. (Warning, do not click the links if prone to travel sickness! But it is worth it!)
It has cool medieval graffiti, 12 runic inscriptions and some cute drawings, mostly in the chancel, which is roped off, so even if you went you’d not get a great view of it. Never mind, I have photos.
The runic inscription is in the middle, to be read vertically, bottom to top. This one is quite fun, it is a puzzle. If it was English, it would read:
Can anyone guess what that might mean? Answers in the comments below! I’ll give the answer there after I’ve given puzzle fans a go at guessing!
The reason the graffiti is white lines is that it was painted over to highlight it by Martin Blindheim when he studied the graffiti a few decades ago.
I love some of the drawings here. This little horseman and his dog are one of my favourites:
And this man could have been drawn yesterday!
The runic inscription by his head is Latin: ‘non sit’ but spelt with the runic ‘th’ rather than ‘t’ which may have reflected how they pronounced Latin in those days, as they had a ‘t’ rune as well. It means ‘be not’ and was presumably the beginning of a longer quote.
The other chancel inscriptions include a woman’s name, the beginning of the Lord’s prayer in Latin and a long unsolved puzzle.
On the other side of the chancel is the door the priest used to get in:
The torches are pointing to another runic inscription:
This one hasn’t been painted white – it’s much harder to see.
It is hard to be sure what it says, but one possibility is ‘don’t hurry’. As it’s on the inside, maybe it is a warning to a young priest by his older mentor not to rush off in an undignified manner after the sermon!
That’s not all there is, but the rest is another story, to be told another day.
Is that the sort of graffiti you would expect in a medieval church? Especially bearing in mind that only priests were allowed in the chancel – did priests write and draw graffiti on their own church?!