Carved Norwegian church pew


Jun 27, 2021
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Please help me solve a mystery!

We bought this church pew in Telemark, Norway about 25 years ago. At the time, we were told it was from about 1900-1910. But as I was fixing it up the other day, I started to get the feeling that it might be a lot older than we thought. Here are my reasons:

1. The bench seat seems like it might be newer than the sides. Similar wood, but my hunch says it’s newer -but, it was haphazardly upholstered sometime in the 60s until last week. Wood just may not have been exposed as much as the rest.

2. Carving on the sides doesn’t match the carving on the seat. Sides are extremely intricate. Seat is rustic.

3. There are some modern-ish screws and nails -but they seem to be a hodgepodge. I’m suspecting that it might have been taken apart and reassembled with newer hardware at some point. There is at least one hand hammered nail in it, but it’s sunk too deep to get a good look at it.

4. I can’t find ANYTHING even remotely like it when I search up 19th/20th century Norwegian furniture. Anything this intricate is much older. Especially since Norway went Lutheran and they favored simpler church interiors. Rosmailing is popular on lots of Norwegian furnishings, of course, but nothing else with this Norse knotwork pattern seems to exist from the early 20th century.

5. It is a really weird, small size for a pew. Granted, it could have been made for a chapel or nook, but generally speaking, pews are long. This is for one person.

So my theory is that someone took a pew from an old church and ditched the seat, keeping just the ornate sides. They then made a new seat and banged it together with modern nails.

I’m getting nowhere trying to find any further info myself. I’m hoping one of you has a lead, guidance, advice!



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