Braathen Dendrokronologiska Undersökningar

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Vallstena church, Gotland

Vallstena (Vol. II - III) parish church, about 25 km east of Visby, is one of those gotlandic churches where planned extension of the church has been interrupted and not fulfilled. The chancel and the eastern part of the nave ('the younger nave') are younger than the western part of the nave ('the older nave') and the tower.

Apparently the building of a new church was planned to take place in stages so that all the time there would be space for the service of the congregation. The old chancel was torn down, and the eastern part of a new wider nave and a more spacious chancel were built. Meanwhile the old nave could be used for service. For some unknown reason making the new nave complete was not proceeded.

A beam to the south in the west wall of the relieving arch of the chancel has waney edge and is dated 1313 (sample 'Vallstena 10'). In the younger nave a former capping piece with stumps from tie beams rests on the vault. One of these stumps ('Vallstena 5') has waney edge and is dated 1320.

The belfry is built in bond with the older nave. The stone-stairs in the passage from the south-west end of the nave to the upper vault, just under the level of the bell, are built in the walls. In that passage the seams between the stones are visible, and there is no trace of rebuilding.

Bore-cores have been taken from the oak-beams at the level of the bell. The beams are contemporary with each other and with the walls. Some of them rest with their ends in original mortar in the walls.

A bore-core ('Vallstena 11') in the oak-beam close to the south wall has 9 annual rings in sap-wood. The outermost ring is dated 1243. Thus the felling year of the oak is estimated to be in the period 1248 - 1253. Bore-cores from two other beams give date to the same period.

If we assume that the older nave is contemporary with the belfry, we find that the parish after only about 60 years needed more space in the church.