Friday, May 15, 2009

Volsted - a Fortelandsby
Mester Gothi in Volsted Church

North Jutland

Volsted is one of our oldest and best preserved fortelandsbyer (a forte is the common land of the village) with the characteristic village pond upon the forte, surrounded by houses and farms from where the fields stretch out starshaped like pieces of a layer cake. Many villages dared not in the renewal around 1790 give up the safety of the village and the social network and move the farms out into the landscape. Volsted is one of few villages still with the look of an old fortelandsby.


The small Volsted Church without tower is built in ab. 1150, and it has some spectacular carved stones by the famous Mester Gothi. A carved inscription says that "gothi fecit" = "gothi built" - and the name and figures are similar to the stones in Gjøl Church in Vendsyssel . This is a quite unique case to know the stone mason who probably also was the building master of two Danish village churches from the 1100s.

Volsted Church, the entrance (click to enlarge)

The entrance to the church consists of authentic Romanesque frame stones, which probably framed the original entrances of the church. Now they are placed around a later porch entrance.
Above the door is a stone with the favorite animal of the 1100s, the strong lion , possibly a symbol of the evil which can only be defeated by Christianity. To the left is the Fall of Man and above this an ashlar with a wild boar. To the right is a bishop, maybe the building master, and above him God's lamb. In the eastern wall of the porch are three ashlars with fertility symbols and animal motives.

photo 2 May 2009: grethe bachmann, Volsted, North Jutland

1 comment:

CCBC said...

I believe that the lion was a symbol for St. Mark, just as the eagle was for John, the ox for Paul, and a man (or human-type angel) for Matthew. But that is a fierce-looking beast so maybe it's not an evangelist at all.