stavkirke stäfˈkērˌkĕ [key] [Nor.], medieval wooden church building of Scandinavian countries. Of hundreds erected in the 11th, 12th, and 13th cent., only a score survive, and these are all in Norway. Their architecture is unique: upturned dragon heads terminate gables; elaborate wood carvings illustrate saga myths as well as biblical stories; pagodalike shingled roofs, small surrounding cloisters, and leper windows (small openings through a chancel arch or wall) are other features. Examples are Hitterdal in Telemark, Fantoft near Bergen (destroyed by fire in 1994 and now rebuilt), and Borgund near Sogne Fjord.

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