The Churches of Gotland

ALVA

The oldest part of the church is the apsidial chancel, which was built about 1200 and was speedily followed by the nave; in the beginning of the 14th century it was decided to raise a huge west tower but could not afford to complete it; the big Gothic portal, too, became a patchwork. The old Romanesque portal with a man's head and an eagle on the capitals was placed on the northern side. The interior is dominated by the imposing Rood, almost entirely filling the rood arch, an excellent work of art from the mid-thirteenth century. On the north wall there is a series of scenes from the Passion of Christ, executed by a painter known as the "Master of 1520" (see Lau) in his singulary careless decorative style, which puts him on the borderline to popular art. Notable is a tombstone laid in 1317 over Botvi, the house keeper of the vicar Botvid in Alva, "who may rest in peace". Seldom has such an honour been bestowed on a woman in such a humble position in the Middle Ages!

Photo Hans Hemlin

Text Dr. Bengt G Söderberg


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