A 1,200 year-old Norway Pagan Temple to Thor and Odin Was Unearthed

A rare pagan temple from the times of the Vikings was recently uncovered in Norway. The remains belong to a 1,200-year-old temple dedicated to the Old Norse gods, including Thor and Odin.

Archaeologists found the remains of a large wooden building that was about 45 feet long, 26 feet wide, and around 40 feet high. It is thought to have been built during the eighth century and was used for god worship and sacrifices during the midwinter and midsummer solstices. A century later, Norse culture became known throughout Europe after the Vikings started raiding, trading, and colonizing different areas.

The Temple to Thor and Odin Was Built Centuries Before Christianity Became Dominant

1,200 year-old Norway Pagan Temple to Thor and Odin from aboveThis Old Norse temple is the first one found in Norway, but others were discovered in Sweden and Denmark before. The Norse called these buildings “god houses” and started building them in the sixth century. Archaeologists uncovered the foundations of this ancient building at Ose, which is a seaside village in western Norway. The excavations also revealed traces of early agricultural settlements from two thousand years ago.

The remains of the temple dedicated to Thor and Odin are from a time when the Norse religious worship was getting more organized and ideological. It was patterned after Christian basilicas that travelers were observing in foreign lands. This resulted in Old Norse temples including a high tower above the roof, which is reminiscent of the towers on early Christian churches of the time. The shape of the wooden building can be determined by the post-holes that still remain, including the round central posts of the tower. This distinctive construction was only used in the making of god houses.

God Worship Was Definitely the Purpose of the Site

Worship templeA concentration of cooking pits that were used for religious feasts and numerous bones from animal sacrifices indicate that the site was used for god worship. Ceremonies would take place in the god house during important religious festivals, including the midsummer and midwinter solstices, which mark the shortest and longest nights of the year.

The Old Norse religion endured to the 11th century when the kings of Norway imposed the Christian religion forcibly and destroyed buildings such as the god houses. It seems though the one at Ose was not destroyed as part of that purge.