Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The old church at Løten

Outside Hamar, in the eastern part of Norway, you are in a middle of an area steeped in old history. Here you probable have the largest number of stately homes in the country and a large number of churches dating back to Medieval times. One of these is Løten old church.

This is what you call a "langkirke" (Long church), and this shape was the most common for churches in Norway. The shape has a symbolic meaning as well, as the room symbolizes the human travel through life and the altar at the end of the room is the end of the travel, paradise.

This shape was also given to some of the oldest wooden churches, the Stave churches, and a good example is the church at Reinli.

The church at Løten has been extended and ended several times, but the oldest part of the nave goes back over 800 years, to the turn of the 13th century.

At the nearby cemetery you find this grave. Underneath the head stone is a murderer buried, in fact Kristoffer Nilsen Svartbækken. He was born in 1804 on the small farm of Svartbækken in Grindalen. He was in 1867 imprisoned for seven years at a prison camp at Trondheim for a mail robbery, and released in 1874.

The night to 28th February 1875, he butchered the 19 year old Even Nilsen Dæhlin with an axe, as he was on his way back to his parents. Even Nilsen had been in Trysil and sold grain, and Kristoffer Nilsen Svartbækken fled with is money. He was caught a few days later.

He was accused of murder and he was sentenced to death, and beheaded February 25th 1875. Kristoffer Nilsen Svartbækken was the last to be sentenced to death and executed in peacetime in Norway.

Read more on Kristoffer Nilsen Svartbækken here (Norwegian only)

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