Date of Award

5-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Art and Design

First Advisor

Allen, Mont

Abstract

This paper explores the framing of Christianity through Old Norse religion via material culture as exhibited by the iconography of the façade of the stave church at Urnes, Lustrafjord, Norway. This paper addresses fluidity between belief systems while considering the geographical origins of the façade’s carvers, the performativity of the structure’s imagery in relation to its proximity from the hamlet at Urnes, Eddic poetry, and the inherently religious social practices of Old Norse religion. It suggests that although the carvings have been interpreted as Christian imagery that is executed in a Viking Age or Late Iron Age style, they are more believably read as pagan in content. This is explored through analysis of the interoperability of Christianity and Old Norse religion during the early years of Norwegian conversion.

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