Legendary Churches - Can They Be Found?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionArv. Nordic Yearbook of Folklore. 2019, 75 7-33.
During the last two decades a number of Nordic researchers have taken an interest in and published works on potential sources of unknown medieval churches. It has been claimed that by drawing on local traditions, legends and place-name material it might be possible to obtain a far better picture of the population of churches as opposed to only using the traditional written and archaeological sources. This article critically reviews the use of the legends and name material as sources about unknown medieval churches. A place name for a church or chapel is no guarantee that a church ever existed in the suggested location, considering that place names will often refer to a geographical relationship to a known church site. Bearing in mind that there are hundreds of virtually identical legends relating to building churches and to migratory churches, the author finds that the credibility of such legends is minimal when it comes to tracing unknown medieval churches. Traditions and legends often serve as explanations for real cultural traces. There are very few examples of legendary churches that have been confirmed as genuine churches through archaeological excavations. A geo-radar study of a legendary church at Naust in Rissa in Trøndelag county did not change this conclusion.