Sunday, May 22, 2011

Forshem Kyrka, Kinnekulle Area

Forshem Kyrka
Forshem Church

Forshem Kyrka is easy to pass by, because later architectural changes make it look too modern. See the contrast between the current church and its believed original appearance at  The church was built 1135-1137 AD or so.

Forshem Kyrka now looks ordinary, and is easy to pass by. Look closer and find old reliefs above arches and doorways.. That is the South Doorway in the center. The West Portal is the entry through the tower.

Built 1135-1137:  See original form, below.

How did this date fit with the Crusades?  This is important because it is said that one stone relief here at Forshem shows a figure perhaps as a Crusader on the Western Doorway stone relief. Is it likely that a newly converted and partially-converted area, such as this in Sweden, suddenly got committed enough to send a Crusader to the Holy Land?  Maybe it happened. See West Doorway section below. Here is a fair use thumbnail of Forshem Kyrka as it may have appeared in 1200 AD, fair use thumbnail also from the wadbring site.

There were many changes made, see  Please, Forshem, take off the commonplace witch's hat steeple top and replace it with an approximation of the original. It may be impossible to remove the new additions, but the steeple should be manageable.


1.  The West Portal, Main Double Door, Tower. Builder, blessing, founder. Crusades.
2.  The South Doorway, Single Door, Arch above; and separate second Arch preserved.  Consecration: Paul, Jesus, Peter; Roman Alphabet; Yggdrasil pattern?

3.  The Arch above the South Doorway, St. Sigfrid? or Martin of Tours and Claus of Myra.  We say Sigfrid. Symbols fit. Still checking. Lettering from Order of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Pilgrimage site in lieu of ability to travel to Holy Land, "Grave Church"

4.  Rear side view:  sarcophagus, inscriptions in recessed area, mystery plaque.

5.  Side addition, above lintel (writing)

6.  Church yards.  Gravel raked, stones lean against building, all tended.
1.  Forshem Kyrka, The West Portal, 
Tower Main Double Door Entrance 

There is room for discussion in identifying these side figures in the stone relief above the west door portal.  

The figure on the left, seen from viewer angle, looks like a builder, and this site calls him a stonemason see the stonecutting tool, site Svenskakyrka, above. Jesus in the center is blessing the work, and the church itself is shown (looks like the one from the 1200's shown above from the Wadbring site. But the one on the right:  some say a knight, some say a "cross knight" or crusader.

The figure stepping on the feet of Jesus is apparently a sign of homage, see the Svenskakyrka explanation.
 SvenskaKyrka identifies the figure as the Founder of the church, not necessarily a knight or crusader. That individual is not known.  What is he holding, or is it Jesus holding something. A mallet from the Founder?

Is this even a representation of a crusader?  For background on the Templars in particular, a Norwegian site, see Scroll down for symbols, including kabbala menorah, lion's head, hourglass, places, people, crosses, skull and bones,

Crusades and the South Portal.

There was a man named Aranas at a nearby castle who had been to Jerusalem, says the Wadbring site, and he could have been the founder of the church, possibly. The Crusades were active at the time. 
  • The First Crusade was 1095-1099, see an Arab view of events and what they found important, at Chronology of the Crusades, just for a change from our rosy religio-centric views, at  Then came the Occupation of Jerusalem by Crusaders, varying alliances, re-alliances. See site.
  •  Second Crusade, 1144-1155.  1148 was a time of victory for Muslims over the German Emperor and French King at Damascus
  •  Third Crusade 1187-1192 and so on. Saladin and Richard the Lionheart, each sometimes wins, each sometimes loses
  •  Fourth-Fifth Crusades 1194-1201; and then on through numerous other Crusades until 1291 when the Crusaders are finally thrown out.
Wadbring identifies the figure as a "cross knight" - knight of the cross, or crusader, we think, but a special kind. 

See the "Grave Church" connection to the Order of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and the names"cross priests" for those who tended them, see below at the arch above the South Doorway.

See also this site. Without information to vouch for authenticity, here is the Bing translation of a Norwegian site discussing, at this section, Templars and Forshem Church (scroll down at the site to find it and pictures of it) at

"Forshem Church is the only church in the Nordic countries that are dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The Church is built in 1135-1137. The Church as it appeared in the 13th century, to the right. The Church is located between Vanern and Vattern. In West Götaland. (West Gothia). The Church is located in an open landscape, the image shows how it looked for 800 years ago. Who built the Church is not proven yet. But Knight and tempelridderkorset is evidence that suggests that there may be people who took part in the crusade, until Jerusalem, the Holy land. Adornments are made when the Church was built. It is striped Templar cross in the Church at the entrance, which may have been carried out in recent times. Three people, Jesus in the middle. Why the one Knight each Jesus on foot is unclear. Over the head of Jesus there is carved a Templar cross. In Jan Guillou's documentary film about this story, it was used a metal looking inside the Church at a time. Against the outside door. Here aparatet on the metal is having sword there? Maybe the Knight Templar Arn Magnusson. The name Guillou has found. But the place is named Aranes. Therefore the name "the Knight Templar Arn", which is of great interest for the story.
Knights Templar Arn Magnusson Sweden Forshem church. The Year 1100."

2.  The South Doorway, Side wall, Forshem Kyrka

This apparently represents the consecration of the church, with Jesus in the center, and Paul on the left, Peter on the right, seen by the viewer. Peter is on Jesus' left. The door is ornate, the strengthening iron holding the slats firmly would also be defensive.

Details on the higher arch are below, at end of section.

Forshem Kyrka, South Doorway, arch and entry, side of church, Sweden

See this site for details on many of the carvings, at /

a.  Consecration relief stone carving

Wadbring site identifies the figures as Jesus in the middle, with Apostle Paul on the left, and Peter on the right.  How is that known? Why would Paul be on the right when Peter was the "rock"?  

It also identifies a St. George's cross above the head of Jesus. Yes, that is there, although it looks like another shape here.

Look closely at the base, and see a Roman alphabet. Words go around the top, translated as "May this church be consecrated in honour of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Grave."  (No mention of resurrection; perhaps that point was not considered at all essential.  All points of human added dogma are extraneous to a direct message of a founder, useful to those for whom it is useful, is that so?).

The Roman Alphabet would be a teaching tool.  Runes continued for centuries after this, see the Svenskakyrkan site.

b. South Doorway Threshold:  

See the threshold stone.  The pattern recurs inside and outside, and elsewhere in Sweden. We see the pattern as "hearts," and think of the now-overused kitschy Swedish country-gift shop designs that are exported here. There is more to it.  The pattern appears to originate in the Norse, Viking Yggdrasil, the Tree of the Lives, the World Tree. 
Multi-deist culture. 

Sweden did not convert easily or fast, and neither did Denmark or Norway. 
  • Saint Ansgar introduced Christianity to Sweden in 829, but that was only after Charlemagne had ruthlessly and forcibly converted Saxons (believe or die) in wars just across the Baltic from 770-814, see Medieval Sourcebook, Einhard, Charlemagne's Wars.  Vikings had already attacked Lindisfarne Monastery, off Ireland, in 793; and continued their attacks. The timing of 793 suggests a retaliation against Christian incursions right to Scandinavian borders (Denmark) by 814, is that so?  See, Sweden  There was great threat to old ways and the coming of a few missionary monks could well portend the force to follow if people did not comply.  
  • Saint Sigfrid came, by invitation, in the early 11th Century, to places including Vaxjo, and the violence that was probably typical of the times, and martyrdoms ensuing, still showed that religious belief was a life or death matter.  Saint Sigfrid's own three nephews were murdered (some say sons) while Sigfrid was in the Husaby area baptising Sweden's King Olaf.  Read about the repercussions, the talking heads, also not unusual in people's miraculous remembrances, at, St. Sigfrid.  Keep this story, of the three severed heads (bodies are supposedly marked by three stones near Vaxjo, but we didn't know the story).
With this turbulent background, it is hard to imagine someone from here joining a Crusade.

Back to the pattern that survives and even gets appropriated into Christian designs. See a Viking Lily Stone, pattern of the World Tree at Kinne-Vedum churchyard, here shown again at FN 1. Is that Viking? Without pamphlets or informational places in the churchyard, we have to rely on later look-ups.  Tourists indulged, but not welcome as far as information goes.

Sources differ on exactly what the tree, Yggdrasil, signified, get a start at, Lotus, Tree, Yggdrasil/  The concept of things fallen deep in the earth then feeding the life that then comes forth in other forms seems to recur.

3.    South Doorway side view, Separate High Arch Preserved Above

Here is more room for discussion as to identity of the figures.  First, see where this is placed, photo above, showing the South Doorway side of the building.  Now, who have we here?

SvenskaKyrkan site says we have St. Martin of Tours on the left, our left, as he is becoming a follower.  Where does that come from?  And SvenskaKyrka says we have St. Claus of Myra, Turkey, on the right, because there is a little ship up there on the top right.
  • The tourist class disagrees. Why reach so impossibly down to Tours, France; and Myra, Turkey, when Sweden's own patron, Saint Sigfrid fits the entire picture..  Martin of Tours and Saint Claus do not fit the symbols on the left -- start there. And any bishop carries a staff.
  • The nephews, or sons. On the left:  Beneath the rider, who is also shown with a staff, are three other figures, lesser.  Those better fit as Sigfrid's sons or nephews who were murdered while he was away from Vaxjo baptizing King Olof -- supposedly at Husaby.  Husaby is just down the road. Nearby.   See account above as to the course of conversion of Sweden.  Unaman, Sunaman, Vinaman.  Names of the dead.
  • What do the words say:  I can't read the Latin. TE CONTEXIT something then lower arch a cross and CATICUONIHUD something something then the lowers arch, a cross and ODARTHIHISAD  and a figure with wings, and a long object and a stouter, and ??  And the little ship top right.

St. Sigfrid, Forshem Kyrka. South Doorway above arch.  Sigfrid, is this you?

First, the words.  The Wadbring site says that the words are from Order of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.  Pilgrims could not get there because of the wars, they could make a pilgrimage instead to the "tomb of churches" instead.  That would explain the figure identified as a cross-knight -- participating in a pilgrimage not to the Holy Land, but next best. The churches were called "Grave Churches" and Priests at those churches were called "cross-brothers".  Thank you, Wadbring.

None of that conflicts with the idea that we are dealing with Sigfrid. The little ship also fits with Sigfrid. Sigfrid was on the King's ship in a lake going to Godo in Slaten Fjord (?) and brought everyone and the ship to safety despite bad weather and waves higher than the ship. See the Monachos site. That figure in the center could be Sigfrid holding the tapers and incense he used, with his vestments, to create the miracle. Wings?  I don't object. Maybe they aren't wings. Are they more waves rearing up?
  • On the right.  Any saint or bishop carries a staff.  Why should that suddenly be Claus, when the ship fits Sig.
 Done.  So far, Sigfrid and not Martin of Tours on the left, and not some Saint Claus of Myra just because there is a  boat there (that would be Santa Claus to us).  Naming makes it so. Now to look up Claus and Martin to check there as well.

4.  Forshem, rear exterior church view

Steeple shape seems out of place, but see from this view a sepulchre-sarcophagus, and two memorial-looking areas, one we could photograph well, the other remains too foggy.

a.  Steeple shape.  You can barely see the "witch's hat" steeple from this rear view of ours, enough to see how different it is from the more squat, square, plain tower-steeples of the old churches that attract immediate attention. "Age!" say the simple steeples. "Later!: say the witch's hat steeples, foreign, even Swiss! or German! tall, thin, six or eight sided to a high point, resting on an angled broad square base.

b.  The sarcophagus. 

A girl was was buried alive at this church in 1350 when the plague devastated the area, and the warbring site describes the use of a "sandwich" (in automatic translation from Swedish).

Does this hinge-looking structure represent that shape?  Is the girl here?  The burying alive shows that the old traditions had not died yet, and that the Christian conversion was still tenuous, we think. 

c. Preserved areas on or in the rear exterior wall, above the round window. 

Sweden's churches often offer no brochures available for tourists, so we take picture now and look up later. Headstone shape beneath the round window:

Names? Haglynn Forssenis ____ anMarathae Tengman, Helenae Ormeniae die XXVIII month Fru(?) MDCCV (1705?) HAEGAE___

There is another area with etched patterns above: illegible. We are still working on it.

5.  Side addition (see top photo) Forshem Kyrka

What are these words?  More from a pilgrimage site reference?

AR on the lower right, and if this were England, Anna Regina for Queen Anne, but that can't be it. When did Queen Anne reign? Born 1665-1714 died. This looks like 1652, see sixth line of lettering top half.  But 1641 bottom? Can someone read that?  Christina was Queen then.  At bottom, a recurrent tree with three leaves on branches on left, and four on the right, like baubles/  See post for the interior for those gain. And the vines. And the coronet above, it looks like, after doing the heraldry from the interior. That kind of coronet is for untitled nobility, we think. That line of little baubles, round shapes in a row.

We focused more on the symbols, because we are interested in one faith system appropriating the symbols and ideas of another, to blend in better and get less resistance, is that so? If Jesus is said to have died on a tree, for example, and we find that Odin also hung on a tree, then the symbols are comfortable.  

For the fastest start in researching Odin and the Havamal, with the significance of him hanging on Yggdrasil, this time go to Wikipedia at 

6.  Churchyards: 

Churchyards are immaculately kept.  We found many, even when the church itself was closed, with rakers smoothing the gravel walkways making tidy parallel lines the full length.

Stone leaning against side of Forshem church. At the top, is someone lifting something.  Center is a round shape, like a wreath?  Try again, a little lighter:

Leaning gravestone, Forshem Church, Sweden

There is something about wreaths vs. coronets - have to check.


FN 1  Trees

Trees are central to this as well as other cultures: heat, transportation, forts, and now we learn that there are trees 8000 years old in Sweden, yes, eight thousand, see World's Oldest Tree Discovered, Telegraph. Co. UK Apr.17, 2008.  "The clones take root each winter as snow pushes low-lying branches of the mother tree down to ground level," says a Professor Kullman in the article.  Then, up comes a straight new stem, and it becomes the next tree, losing contact with the mother tree over time."  Trees and cosmology of cultures:  see Sacred Trees of Norway and Sweden, in Norwegian Journal, by Douglas Forell Holmes

Is Yggdrasil the same as the concept of the  "Lily" intertwined pattern. We think so so far. Next trip, we want to see the Forshem museum that apparently has the finest Lily Stone from the area, a standing stone of phallic shape, with the same pattern as the rectangular we found at Kinne-Vedum.  Have to check more.

FN 2  Tree of the Lives, Yggdrasil, World Tree, burial ground at nearby Kinne-Vedum Kyrka. Lily entwined perhaps.  The stylized form looks heart-shaped, and so the origins were forgotten in favor of the heart, sigh.


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