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The drive from Stavanger to Oslo is, without any stops included, a 7.25 hour drive under the best case scenario. When you’re traveling with kids and a post-kid bladder, 7.25 hours in a car, is never going to work. The hubby and I planned on stopping in Kristiansand, Arendal and Sandefjord to break up the drive and find some hidden treasures, but even with those stops the drive was long.
Soon after leaving Arendal, I saw a sign for Olavskirken on the side of the road (E18) and I immediately asked Luke to stop at that site. I had no idea the hidden gem that we had stumbled upon in the town of Bamble, Norway.
Built in the Romanesque-Norman style, the old church Olavskirken dates back to 1150. The church served as a Catholic church under the name St. Olav’s until the Reformation. Thereafter, it was referred to as Skeidi Church. The old church was replaced by the new church built in the wooden cruciform style around 1845.
When we pulled into the lot, I thought we were there to see the cruciform church until I noticed the ruins of the ancient church midway through the cemetery. We all quickly lost interest in the new church and made our way towards the ruins of Olavskirken.
The ruins were a complete gem of a find on our way back to Oslo. We walked through the ruins noting the signs posted that spoke to the old church’s and the new church’s construction. Moss and grass now cover the remaining walls and roof. In the middle of the cemetery and surrounded by Norwegian forest, the scenery was magical.
As we walked deeper into the ruins, we found a stairway that no leads nowhere and a room off to the side. The room off to the side turned out to be the ancient chapel that is still in use today. It was small, but beautiful. After stopping on a whim, we had made a wondrous discovery. Sometimes it is worthwhile to take a bit of a detour to explore as you never know what hidden gem you may uncover.