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Pagan temple unearthed in Norway


For the past few weeks, The University Museum of Bergen have undertaken archaeological excavations at Ose farm in Ørsta municipality, Western Norway. A large area has been opened, revealing traces of Iron Age settlement. Of particular interest are several longhouses from the Late Iron Age and Early Middle Ages.


Pagan temple unearthed in Norway
The archaeologists had to look at the find for several days before they dared to believe that
it was actually a pagan cult house they had found [Credit: Øyvind Sandnes/NRK]



The most spectacular find from the excavation however is a building, situated at the western end of the site. The building is 14 meters long and 7 meters wide. It is supported by sturdy wall posts, showing a bow-shaped walled structure with rounded end. 


Pagan temple unearthed in Norway
Archaeologists have marked the walls and other central part of the house,
to show what it looked like [Credit: Øyvind Sandnes/NRK]

The interior of the building lacks the typical double rows of roof-supporting posts in its construction, commonly observed in the contemporary three-aisled longhouses. Instead, the inner center is comprised of four large posts situated 3 x 3.5 meters apart.






A handful of Southern Scandinavian buildings from central Late Iron Age sites such as Uppåkra in Southern Sweden and Tissø in Denmark display the same construction as the building at Ose. Although the settlement at Ose pales in comparison to these sites in terms of scale, the building must also be interpreted a pagan temple.




Evidence of the worship of the old Nordic gods is previously known elsewhere in Norway, but this is the first find of a well-preserved temple. Consequently, the Ose find is unparalleled in a Norwegian context.


Source: Universitetsmuseet i Bergen [September 29, 2020]



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