Thursday, September 2, 2010

Norwegian Culture in Minnesota

Our rig is currently parked in Fargo, North Dakota, actually a few feet from the Red River. Today we got away from the subject of bison and cowboys, and went to Norway instead. The Historical and Cultural Society of Moorhead has on exhibit a full-scale replica of a stave church, and a replica of a viking ship. The church was the dream of a local chemist Guy Paulson. The original church was built in Norway in the 1100s when Scandinavia became Christianized and the Viking Age drew to a close. The Vikings in their travels had seen the stone cathedrals in Europe and wanted their country to have similar churches. They constructed theirs differently,however, by using wood and in the Gothic style rather than Romanesque. The portal of this church is adorned with carvings of  lions with vines coming out of their mouths (both symbols of Christ) and the vines are devouring demons. Paulson copied all those intricate Norwegian designs from the original Hopperstad Church and carved them out himself. I mentioned earlier that it was a stave church. You can see those vertical posts in the picture I have below.  You may also notice two altars. The lower one was for the people and for such rites of worship as baptism, and the higher one was for the priest. There is also a "leper's window" at the high altar which made it possible for the sick to attend church and receive communion. The churches in Norway were Catholic until the Lutheran Church later became the state church in Norway.
I also have a picture here of the beams of that church, on which are carved St. Andrew crosses.
In this museum is also a viking ship. Robert Asp started building a replica of a burial ship built around 800 AD in the early 1970s. It took him about nine years to build the Hjemkomst (Norwegian for "Homecoming"). Part of his dream was to be able to sail it to Noway. He died before that dream came true. However, his four children did make the epic voyage across the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean landing 72 days later in Norway. That trip was made in 1982. I have here a picture of the prow of that boat.

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