There's a stone up there, even though I forgot to tell you all about it the last time when I seemed to be totally lost in old viking history.
The stone has been there for a long time, and is a standing sort of thing. One end put into the ground, and the rest is visible to the eye on any day, protruding from the ground at an angle leaning towards the old church wall without touching it. Luckily!
The stone itself is from times well before any christian churches was built over here, and therefore we would have quite strong reasons to believe it has some kind of pagan history and traditions connected to it.
There you go. The stone I'm talking about, leaning towards the wall of the old building. All snaps of todays post were made on my iPhone yesterday, as we tend to do these days. Well, sometimes we do, at least.
We can be absolutely sure though, that the christians would have thrown all sorts of spells over the thing before the church was put up over this place, but then again... back in the times we are talking about now they could not be absolutely sure the spells and prayers would work.
They might have felt quite comfortable, but obviously not a fully 100%.
You see, this particular stone had an inscription on the surface way back in time. The words, or the runes to be more precise, is not very visible today but some time during the 17'th century they were duly noted by someone able to write. Priests, probably. They deciphered the text into the words "Mikjael Mariu næstr", and made up a story that this would mean that this was The Virgin Mary's sewing needle (from the last word næstr, which they believed came from nest, or sewing in the old norwegian language).
Well... today they have asked people even more familiar with the old words, and by combining all three of the words from the stone the whole thing seems to be pretty much self-explanatory according to these people. The "næstr" part of the inscription will mean "the next (of rang)", just like we use the word these days as well. This will make it the full meaning would be something like "Mikael, next to Maria". So, what would they get out of that then?
Having reading the Bible a lot more than myself it seems like they quickly came to the conclusion that Mikael would be the arch angel supposed to blow his horn to lead the souls in for doomsday, and that this would be the reason why they have called this stone the doomsday stone through all those years.
The church tried to calm things down by giving the stone a very different name and meaning, but the other story has also been known all the time up to this day.
As a footnote to the whole thing I can also inform you that the stone used to be quite a bit taller than it is today. The priests here at Avaldsnes have been known to watch the stone quite carefully since the church was built back in the days of the 1200's. They have also been known to climb up there at night time with hammer and chisel, knocking the top off the thing as it has moved closer to the church wall. The top of the stone is really battered and very unlike the rest of the stone.
But who could possibly blame them? I mean there's probably not a man in the world who would just stand and watch the horror is about to happen when the quick fix lies quite obvious in front of your very eyes. Better not take any chances, I would say :)
See? See that gap between the stone and the shadow it casts on the wall when the sun shines at an angle towards the thing? Kind of freaks you out, I would think!? The germans who stayed over here for a five years period around the middle of last century wanted to tear the whole church down to keep our friends from England and thereabouts away from bombing the city of Haugesund. They thought they would use the church as an aid for aiming their bombs at their targets. Luckily there were people around with power enough to keep them from going for the idea. The sollution was to cover the whole church to kind of make it blend into the terrain. I got no idea if it was a sucess or not. At least the building is still here.
So, the stone got two names these days. On the map, and if you ask people within the church and such, you will be told it's called Virgin Marys sewing needle. Ask more or less any other person, and you will be told it's the doomsday stone. After all, there's a lot more punch and oomph over that last name, I would say.
Even the king who had the church built was a bit afraid of the stone even though he made all the efforts in the world to make it switch from pagan to christian. He made sure the wall of the church was duly adjusted to avoid the stone to touch it. There was a few more stones as well, but they seem to have been taken down before building the church. This particular one was not touched, and still stands where it was put, a couple of thousand years ago or so.
See what I mean? 92 millimeters folks, and that's it! Obviously the old priests at Avaldsnes has done a nice job keeping things under control during the centuries...
Today, there's a distance of 92 millimeters of free air between the stone and the church wall. That should be enough to keep everything in nice and good order for the next few years, I would think...