Iøjnefaldende arkitektur. Nordens middelalderlige rundkirker

Translated title of the contribution: Conspicuous architecture. Medieval round churches in Scandinavia

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Medieval round churches are often seen as riddles in need of special explanation. Deviant architecture has been explained by three major theories – fortification, multi-functionality and symbolic copying. However, I claim that the round churches were normal except for their elite context and extraordinary plan. I then argue, that the elite consciously choose a “conspicuous architecture”, to use a concept inspired by Thorstein Veblen, as a social strategy of status and rivalry. Finally I discuss the theory by Richard Krautheimer on medieval imitation, where selected elements represented a symbolic wholeness, as far as the period was able to produce copies. The medieval building was an active process, where architectural elements from plenty of sources were reused to create something new, as in the medieval reuse of “spolia”. Every church is unique as a node in a web of relations, where the architecture is related to an infinite number of other buildings. I also shortly present an updated overview of the 34 medieval round churches in Scandinavia as the latest overview for many still is the influential dissertation by Hugo F. Frölen from 1910-11, which wrongly stated, that all round churches were fortified.
Errata p 210: The church of Ny is concecrated to All Saints and the church of Nylars to Saint Nicholas.
Translated title of the contributionConspicuous architecture. Medieval round churches in Scandinavia
Original languageDanish
Pages (from-to)205-244
JournalKuml: Årbog for Jysk Arkæologisk Selskab
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Archaeology


  • Round church Conspicuous architecture


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