Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Utstein Monastery, Norway

 The coping stones running along the tops of our garden walls are frosted, but already beginning to melt in the early morning sun. There's no tempting me outside, I am like the cat that got the cream, warm, cosy, and content to stay indoors

Endeavouring to tidy up my iPhoto storage I came across a visit made during a past trip to Norway
The trip was taken at a time when our eldest son and family still lived in Norway. The images are from my first digital camera - long gone now, and not very good, but they hopefully convey a sense of place. 
via
Utstein Monastery 
To reach Utstein Monastery you travel through a deep undersea road tunnel from Stavanger to the island of Mosterøy in Rogaland. On arrival at the island there is a brisk walk to the monastery across a natural causeway - an area surrounded by inlets of water as far as the eye can see, distant mountains, and sheep grazing along the pathway. 
I had assumed that these sheep were a Norwegian breed but in fact they come from Wales - Balwen Welsh Mountain sheep whose striking tails are traditionally left undocked as in the photo.
Utstein is the only preserved Monastery from the Middle Ages in Norway and one of it's important landmarks

It served as the Royal residence to the very first Viking king of Norway; Harald Fairhair, and is first mentioned in historical records going back to the C9th.

King Harald from the c14th Icelandic manuscript Flateyjarbók
 The building was later donated to the Augustinian monks of Stavanger towards the end of the c12th.  They lived a pious life of strict discipline and prayer at Utstein Monastery until the Reformation in the c15th.
At its height there were 12 monks in residence, but the abbey was sustained by double that amount of local lay people who worked on their farm, grew produce, cooked the meals, and generally took care of the monastery. The extensive lands belonging to the monastery were sufficient to support 250 people throughout the year.

The monastery church has traditional Nordic/Scandic painted wood and carved stonework

Although medieval they have a contemporary feel, and I suspect that this could already be heralding their innate sense of style and design which many of us admire today
With its tranquil setting and fine accoustics it is now a favoured place for concerts, seminars, conventions, and tourists

51 comments:

  1. Happy New Year Rosemary. The frost looks pretty on your stonework, but I'm thinking being cosy and warm inside is the way to go this week. I enjoyed these pictures of Norway very much; the old monastery is quite intriguing as well as beautiful. The painted wood does look contemporary, as does that stonework, but I also love the Gothic arches, all with lovely detailing. It sounds like it was quite the adventure even to get there!

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    1. I suppose that the only way to reach the island of Mosterøy before the road tunnel was via ferry - may be even several ferries. Norway has a huge network of tunnels that go under the sea - it is a good job that they are a wealthy country and can afford to build them.

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  2. Your photos from Norway are great and lovely.

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  3. A real treasure that monastry so old and so well preserved, nice post.

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    1. It was a lovely visit that we all enjoyed

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  4. What a lovely place. Norway is on my bucket list and I will remember this monastery. I have never seen sheep like this. It makes we wonder why it is necessary to dock tails in the first place?

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    1. They dock the tails apparently because of the faecal mess that accumulates on their tails. Docking them prevents maggots - however, these are pretty looking sheep and their tails look perfect to me - very clean and a pretty cream colour.

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  5. Hello Rosemary, Norway seems a fascinating place. I have never seen architecture quite like that, quite handsome, although on the spare side. I wonder what deep winter is like over there.
    --Jim
    PS I just opened the Wensleydale cheese, and it was perfection. Kind of like feta, and in fact I read that Wensleydale was originally made with sheep's milk. I went back to the store, and it was all gone--a short-lived treat.

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    1. Hello Jim - I have visited in the winter time, and my son did warned us to bring warm clothes and boots - however, as it happens it didn't snow whilst we were there. It is a country very much like Austria and Switzerland during the winter - lots of skiing, tobogganing, and there is a law that everyone must put snow tyres on their car during November.
      Glad you liked the Wensleydale cheese, it has a nice slightly crumbly texture to it. You will have to ask the store to get some more in. Apparently that firm send lots of varieties of English cheese around the world.

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  6. It's beautiful! Thanks for slipping a bit of Viking history in there too!

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    1. I was interested that the building had been the residence of the first Viking King - it has a romance to it.

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  7. Dear Rosemary, I am so glad that you found these photographs. They may not be of your usual quality, however, they still tell an interesting story.

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    1. Dear Gina - I actually enjoyed being reminded of and reliving the trip.

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  8. I'm so glad you came across those photos. Such a beautiful place, with such history. B x

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    1. I almost deleted them, but then enjoyed being reminded of the occasion.

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  9. You're right, the design has a rather modern look to it. Thanks for the visit.

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    1. I remember trying to emulate the outdoor house paint colours used in Norway here, but it didn't work, the setting and the ambience were wrong.

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  10. What a fascinating and beautiful place. I really enjoyed hearing about it's history. Thank you!

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  11. I love Norway for her landscapes and they were the main purpose of the stay in the country. But I see that there are other beautiful things to enjoy and admire on your photos. Regards.

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    1. I love Norway too Giga such a beautiful country.

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  12. An interesting and beautiful post, thank you Rosemary. The designs on wood carving and stonework are as fresh and clean as they are today in Scandinavia.
    A peaceful setting for this ancient monastery.



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    1. Thank you Betty - I am pleased that you enjoyed seeing the monastery

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  13. I'm like you and know doubt many others preferring to stay indoors in such chilly weather.
    It's a lovely building and good to know it's used these days, if for other purposes.
    Keep warm Rosemary....

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    1. It has warmed up a bit today Margaret and the sun was out - colder weather is predicted though.

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  14. Lovely photos of such a peaceful looking place. The artwork is fascinating and I am struck by how different it is to the artwork seen in medieval churches and monasteries here (just over the North Sea). I love the sheep with the white tails and the badger faces!

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    1. I like the sheep too Wendy - they would go nicely with your cute sheep.

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  15. Magnificent photos of Norway's incredible nature and interesting lecture. In Milan we have minus 5° in the nights and around 0°during the days, quite unusual, and you really just want to stay inside with a nice cuppa :-)

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    1. I have been surprised just how much snow I have seen on blogs in Turkey and Greece, no snow here, but it is predicted for the north of the country tomorrow.

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  16. I think you are very wise to copy that cat with the cream! The monastery is beautiful and it is in a wonderful location. I love those Nordic decorations, the land must have been well looked after to support so many. Sarah x

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    1. The location of the monastery is lovely - it must have been very remote before ferries and the undersea tunnel.

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  17. I like the interior art work. A new breed of sheep for me and it's surprising just how many different types there are around the world.

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    1. I was surprised to discover that the sheep came from Wales Bob

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  18. The photo of your coping stones with snow is a lovely one, and if I didn't have to go to work, I'd stay by the fire like a cat, too. It's been cold here, and so windy.
    The approach to the monastery sounds adventurous. Scandinavia is a place I'd love to visit one day - there's so much to see and learn in the world. Beautiful photos that give a sense of the isolation of the place nowadays.

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    1. Snow was predicted today but we don't have any this far south - I would urge you to give Norway a visit, and the other Scandinavia countries too one day.

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  19. Visits to Norway when your son and family lived there must have been an enjoyable experience. I'm glad you've shared the photos of the former monastery with us. It looks like a tranquil setting with scope for some peace and quiet during a visit. I was interested in its history and present use as well as seeing the interior architecture and style of decoration. I hope you are still staying cozy and warm. The strong winds have calmed down here after causing difficulties with many trees down yesterday, but I will not be surprised if snow comes our way soon.

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    1. Just rain down here Linda, hope that you are alright - it looks awful in the north, and the prospect of a sea surge off Lincolnshire sounds frightening for those who live in that region.

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  20. What a beautiful place and the monastery is amazing...always so nice visiting your blog Rosemary. Always so beautiful pictures too!
    Have a happy weekend, take care.
    Titti

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    1. Thanks Titti for your kind comment - it is always lovely to see you here♡

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  21. What a beautiful place to visit! You must have really enjoyed it. I certainly did! Thank you for going back in time and sharing these photos with us!

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    1. Thank you Amy - I used to love my trips to beautiful Norway so it was nice to be reminded of them.

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  22. Dearest Rosemary,
    Glad you did tidy up your iPhoto and came across these.
    What a very unique and utterly tranquil spot on the island.
    Glad you did take those photos back than.
    Quite interesting for having had your son living there at the time!
    My latest blog post is not showing on the side line; have no inkling why...?!https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2017/01/after-40-years-somethings-gotta-give.html
    So, I'm working like a robot for trying to get my total of 18 Fleur de Lys done. Four of the large one that needs 12, I've managed. One a day and that is 6.5 hours at high speed with NO errors. Which I have not yet had...
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - I was happy to revisit this Monastery from a few years ago through my iPhotos. It was always lovely to visit Norway when my son lived there, and now he lives in Paris.

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  23. Thank you for sharing this interesting story! I feel your poor old camera did a great job.

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    1. Thanks Teresa - glad that you enjoyed seeing and hearing about the monastery.

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  24. I'm catching up! Would like to return and spend more time in lovely Norway.
    Those sheep are delightful with their unusual tails!

    Mary -

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    1. We used to love our visits to Norway - sadly no longer now they have moved, but Paris is a good compensation.

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  25. It's all so beautiful. Norway is certainly at the top of my list for places i would most love details with us.

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