The Churches of Gotland


There is a tale about the two round stones in the southern facade of the church: Once upon a time there lived a monster in the sea off the Hoburg cliff, that some times came up on the shore to play with a gleaming red precious stone. Once it so happened that it fell to the ground and broke in two, at which a farmer in Sundre contrived to take possession of it, and the two halves were put into the church wall. Later they were taken out and brought to Visby to adorn the tower of St Mary's church; there they became widely known as the wondrous carbuncles, which at night shone brightly out at sea, until they were seized by Valdemar Atterdag in 1361 and carried away on board his ship and got lost when it foundered off the Karlsöarna (Karl islands). In Sundre two round stones of red Hoburg marble were put into the church wall instead of the carbuncles. What the stones really are, or signify, is not known; perhaps they were ancient cult objects, the magic powers of which one wished to transport to the church ("sun-stones").-A church was built here in the 12th century and supposedly at the same time the mighty "castal", which, according to a very credible local tradition was

besieged by Danish troops in 1361. If the church was of wood or stone we do not know, but a number of planks with paintings on them from about 1200, which had been secondarily used as panels in the choir cupboards are now to be seen in Gotlands fornsal. They were originally part of a wall panel, and the representation, in pure Byzantine style, has been reconstructed as a Last Judgement. Since the paintings belong to the time when the nave and the choir were built, the painted wall must have stood in the present church, perhaps as a provisional west wall before the tower was built about 1250. From that time there are some ornamental mural paintings, and the "Passion master" was at work here in the 1450s. A statue of the Virgin remains from a Calvary group from the end of the 13th century. The present Rood is a 15th century work. The pulpit from the Empire period is a rare sight on Gotland..

Photo Hans Hemlin

Text Dr. Bengt G Söderberg


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List of the churches in alphabetical order

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