The Churches of Gotland


According to the very credible account in the "Guta Saga", an ancient history of Gotland written down in the 13th century, Botair of Akebäck was the man who built the first church in Visby, the first in Gotland that was allowed to stand unmolested. He can be supposed not to have hesitated to build a church on his own farm in Akebäck; all traces of this wooden church are, however, lost. Yet the church of our days is, too, an early one, erected in the 12th century and one of the few genuinely Romanesque churches on the island. Certainly the tower was built in the begin -ning of the 13th century but does not in any way break the Romanesque character of the whole. One small sculptural detail from the 12th century church has survived beside the chancel portal: a relief showing a man laying on his back with a pick in his hand. Locally he is said to have been a workman who fell to his death at the building of the church. More likely the stone has been put in the wrong way at some restoration and really depicts-as often enough on romanesque portals-the master stone mason. The interior of the church is as simple as the exterior. In the chancel vault you will find three "sound pots" of earthen ware, open downwards, an arrangement, not often preserved, in order to improve the accoustics. The pulpit and the pews from the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century have a uniform character of provincial Gotlandic baroque.

Photo Hans Hemlin

Text Dr. Bengt G Söderberg


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List of the churches in alphabetical order

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