Recently Discovered a 1,200-Year-Old Pagan Temple In Norway

Recently the remains of one pagan temple were discovered in Norway. It was built 1,200 years ago, centuries before Christianity to appear here. The temple is from the Viking religion and it was used as a place for worshiping the Old Norse gods Thor and Odin. The worship and sacrifices to these gods took place in the summer and during the midwinter.

The god house was the religious link between local people and the Old Norse gods. The gods were said to live in the realm of Asgard, which was connected to the earthly realm Midgard by a “rainbow bridge” called Bifröst. (Image credit: University Museum of Bergen)

This temple, which is a large building made from wood, dates back to the eighth century. It is around 45 feet long, 26 feet wide, and 40 feet high.

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Norse culture became famous when some Norse sailors and warriors started to trade, attack, and colonize in Europe, Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. That way they became known as the Vikings.

The remains of the ancient god house were found at Ose, a seaside village near the town of Ørsta in western Norway, on land earmarked for a housing development. (Image credit: University Museum of Bergen)

According to the archeologist Søren Diinhoff, this is the first Old Norse temple that is found in Norway. He says that these kinds of special and very beautiful buildings were found in Sweden and Denmark before.

Now we know that they were built in Norway too. The Norse bagan building them in the sixth century and they were very complex.

Excavations at the site revealed the remains of two longhouses – probably family farms – from more than 2000 years ago, before the god house was built at the end of the eighth century A.D. (Image credit: University Museum of Bergen)

God House

Archaeologists found the foundations of this ancient temple last month at the seaside village Ose, near the town of Ørsta, which is in western Norway. The excavations revealed early agricultural settlements from 2,500 years ago. This area was dominated by an elite group of wealthy families from Scandinavian societies.

The Old Norse “god house” was built from wood about 1200 years ago to worship gods like Odin, Thor, and Freyr. Post-holes that show its distinctive shape, including its central tower, have been unearthed at the site. (Image credit: University Museum of Bergen)

The religious worship that was organized by the Norse became more ideological with time. God houses in this village became patterned similarly to the Christian basilicas in the southern lands.

The post holes show their unique shape with a tower at the center of the building.

How Was Ancient Worship Done

There were found some cooking pits for preparation of the food for religious feasts and also a lot of bones that were the remains of animals used for sacrifice.

Inside were found some “phallus” stones that represent the male genital organ that was used for fertility rituals.

The interior of the god house (shown here in a digital reconstruction) at Ose may have been lit by hearths for sacrificial fires and had wooden statues of the Old Norse gods, such as the war god Odin, the storm god Thor, and the fertility god Freyr. (Image credit: University Museum of Bergen)

Important festivals were celebrated with ceremonies on the shortest and longest nights of the year that is in midsummer and midwinter.

They offered meat, drink and precious metals like gold to the Old Norse Gods represented like wooden figurines inside the temple. Some of the gods that were regularly worshipped were the god of storms Thor, the god of wars Odin, the god of fertility Freyr.

The worshippers enjoyed eating the food and drink offered to gods. The archeologist says that he thinks that they must have had a good time, with a lot of eating and drinking in a good mood.

The site is beside the coast among mountains and inlets, about 150 miles south-west of the modern city of Trondheim. Boathouses would have been built along the shore in ancient times. (Image credit: University Museum of Bergen)

In the 11th century, Norway’s kings imposed the Christian religion with force, tearing down and burning all of the buildings made with the purpose to be god houses. That way they enforced worship to take place in the new Christian churches.

Diinhoff says that there needs to be more work in order to be revealed whether this god house was one of the pagan buildings that were destroyed at that time and that it would be ideal if we know that.