The churches in Vikebygd - Norway.
- 5 churches during 800 years

The 3rd church was built in 1872 The 4th church was built in 1928

by Steinar Skartland.
Read this text in Norwegian, click here

The rural district called Vikebygd is situated in the north part of Rogaland County, by the southwest coast of Norway, 40 km along the road from Haugesund. (Until the 31rst of december 2001 this was a part of Hordaland County).

Vikebygd originally consisted of two parts, separated from each other by the fjord called Ålfjorden (the Eel-fjord). When a boat on the fjord was the easiest way to travel, they were one union, and for a long time, one municipality. Nowadays people travel by car on the roads, and these two country areas have less in common anymore.


The 1rst church was built in the 12th-century.

East Vikebygd (Austre Vikebygd) has been an old church place through many centuries. All together we know of 5 churches that have been standing on nearly the same yard in Vikebygd.

First time the church in Vikebygd is mentioned in any written material, is in the year 1315 (or possible 1313), and was then called "Viksar kyrkje." We do not know exactly what time this church was built, but it must have been earlier than the year 1300. The church architecture was stave church (stavkyrkje) and it was situated on the same yard as the church of today. In the year 1431 the parish was called "Vika." This church was removed in 1682.

The 2nd church was built in 1682

From the time of the Reformation (16th-century) Vikebygd belonged to Fjelberg church parish, and it was the priest in Fjelberg, Peder Heltberg, who paid the cost of the church, amounting to "74 RiksDalar, 1 Mark and 8 Shilling." This church did also have a little tower and a porch, what we call "våpenhus." It was built on the same yard as the first church, and stood there until 1873. Then it was torn down and sold in pieces.

It is also said about this church (referring to an article in Haugesunds Avis in 1926):
"The church was owned by farmer Lars Selsaas. It was built by two ladies that gave it away. In the year 1870 it was torn down and sold in parts on an auction. On some farms in Vikebygd, there are found different smaller parts of the church, like doors and so on."

The 3rd church was built in 1872

Even before the old church was torn down, they had started to built a new wooden church. It was inaugurated 16th of October 1872 by bishop Peter Hersleb Gråh Birkeland. This church had 380 seats, and was built in a little grove 63 meters closer to the fjord. This yard is now used as a park. The church had a little tower with two bells. But one day in the spring, the 16th of April 1926, lightning struck down in the tower and set the church on fire. Many people were gathering around the church, but it was impossible to stop the fire from burning down the building. Still they managed to save some of the furniture.

The 3rd church was built in 1872

The 4th church was built in 1928

The planning and work on the new church started immediately. The architect Alvsaker from Bergen made a drawing of a modern stave church (stavkyrkje). It was some larger than the church from 1872, but is was situated on the same place. In this church there were 400 seats, and it was the first in Vikebygd that had an organ. The 4th church in Vikebygd was inaugurated on the 11th of June 1928 by bishop Hognestad.

But the happiness over the new church did not last very long. The night before Monday the 8th of December 1930 the sound of the church bells woke up the people in Vikebygd. The church was on fire. One of the neighbours, teacher Lars Møllerhaug, saw the fire. He ran to the church and started to ring the bells as much as he could. He was almost caught by the fire. All neighbours came quickly to the church, but there were nothing they could do, and they were not able to save anything from the church building. It took the fire only 2 hours to burn down everything.

The fire was probably caused by the heat from a stove that had been in use both Saturday and Sunday to heat the church for the divine service on Sunday.

The 4th church was built in 1928

The 5th church was built in 1937

From the year 1861, Vikebygd belonged to Sveio (Sveen) Church parish, which consisted of the country districts on both sides of the Ålfjord. The inhabitants of the Sveio side (west side) did not want to cross the fjord any longer to get to the church, and demanded to have their own church on the west side of the fjord, in Førde too. This delayed the plans for the building with several years, and was the reason why the new church in East Vikebygd could not be ready for inauguration until 23rd of September 1937. This church, that is the one we have today in Vikebygd, was built in bricks, and is situated on the oldest church yard. It has 300 seats and was drawn by architect Alvsaker from Bergen.

The original organ in the church was built by Landrog in Haugesund, and was placed in a side gallery in the tower. In the first decades they had to use a footpedal on a huge bellow, to pump air for the organ. Later on an electrical pump was added. This organ was in use until 1988 when the congregation and the municipality decided to share the cost with investing in a new organ together. This organ was built in Holland. The old organ has not been removed from the church, but it is no longer in use.

The inhabitants of Vikebygd love their beautiful white church, where they come together in happiness and in grief. Where they are baptised, married, and where their love ones have been brought to the final rest in the church yard. Where they come together to celebrate the festivals of the church year, and the divine services.

Visitors are amazed over the great beauty of this church, and use to call it "the cathedral in our municipality."

Den 5. kyrkja i Vikebygd

We look forward to seeing you in our church.

Information prepared for internet by Steinar Skartland
Other information about Vikebygd:
News from Vikebygd at:

Read this text in Norwegian - Norsk

Return to