Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pre-Christian Temple Discovered in Norway

Excavations for house foundations at Ranheim, Norway, have uncovered a small "gudehovet" or "god temple," a structure used by pre-Christian Pagan peoples. Used from around the eighth or ninth centuries BCE until the 10th century AD/CE, the site is well preserved because it was covered over by its worshippers with a thick layer of peat, apparently in order to protect it from marauding Christians. It is surmised that the site's inhabitants fled Christian invaders, who were known to slaughter the natives and destroy their sacred sites. The covering over of the site coincides with an exodus recorded in ancient Norse sources, around the time of the first Norwegian king, Harald Fairhair (872-930). These Norse writings were later composed in Iceland, relating that some 40 people had come there from the area of Trøndelag, Norway.

Regarding this discovery at Ranheim, head archaeologist Preben Rønne of the Science Museum/University of Trondheim remarked, "Indications are that the people who deliberately covered up the god temple at Ranheim took the posts from the stave house/pole building, in addition to the soil from the altar, to the place where they settled down and raised a new god temple. Because our findings and the Norse sources work well together, the sources may be more reliable than many scientists believed."