Editor’s pickRefurnishing Sweden's oldest christian church

16-08-2018
Kata Farm Church,Varnhems monastery church,Sweden,Oldest Christian Church,Oldest Swedish building,glued laminated timber,pine tar treated wood roof

In 2005, excavations in a hill near Varnhems monastery church let to the discovery of remains of a farm church from the 9th century, testifying that Västergötland was christened 100 years earlier than commonly believed. The ruins belonged to Sweden's oldest Christian church and probably even the oldest Swedish building. Kata was the woman who ruled the farm and allowed the church to be built, thus naming the site Kata farm. In order to make the old church accessible to visitors, the church foundations with its burial sites are constructed to provide protection from weather and wind.

The Kata Farm (All photos are credited to Antonius van Arkel)

With a structure that works like a roof, a space for exhibiting the stories about the place and its history is also created. The building is constructed of glued laminated timber beams that form an equilateral triangle in its cross-section, a timber roof truss. The timber roof trusses are placed on horizontal sill plates of glued laminated timber, which rests on a number of pillars in the ground. The sloping walls of the building are covered by pine tar treated woodroof. The room above the ground is open to allow the masonry to be seen from above.

The glazed railing lets visitors see the basement. Even Kata's tomb from the mid-1000's is visible through the floor from above. A breakthrough in the limestone wall reveals the incision of the foundation wall and provides access to the stone basement. The structure above the ruin and grave is 12 metres wide, 19 metres long and 12 metres high.

In May 2017, the exhibition hall and weather protection were opened over the ruin of Sweden's oldest church.

 


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