Giant churches ≠ megachurches

In my childhood my family spent the summer holidays in Finland, staying at various rental cottages until we converged on a nice place right in the geographical centre of Finland where we children found friends our own age and spent the summers swimming, fishing, and playing in the local sand-pit. (For example dodging tractor tyres rolled down the hill—it's a wonder none of us was injured.)

However, my father tended to get impatient after a few days and had us bundle into the car and drive away to look at some “tourist attraction” or other. Now, this was truly in the middle of nowhere; I understand the artificial insemination facility is still on the local tourist board's top-five list of sight-seeing spots… So, one of these more or less remarkable things we went to see was Pirunkirkko, the Devil's Church.

Of course—a recurrent event whenever we went on these trips—we got lost and spent seemingly hours carefully navigating narrow forest roads that tended to suddenly end in nothing, but thanks to a local yeoman on one of these roads, we eventually got to the right spot as marked by a hand-painted wooden sign pointing into the forest. Walking a bit further we finally got to the spot marked X, and it was good that it was or we would have missed it completely. Apparently the rocks at that point were slightly larger than the surrounding rocks and placed slightly more resembling a rectangular shape than not, but for the rest they were just as moss-covered and granitic as all the other rocks in the forest. One would have thought that we would have been hardened by then, yet we were disappointed and Father's exhortations to use our imaginations to locate the pulpit and altar really didn't help.

I was reminded of this event when I read this article on “Giant churches” in Ostrobothnia in Hufvudstadsbladet. The accompanying photograph does not give any hint of what they actually look like, but they are assumed to be stone-age constructions though not houses. Their purpose and function has not been known and they have not been excavated to any great extent, but now a careful excavation of a giant church in Alaveteli has been started.

Shout-out to Åsa and Martin, what are your expert comments on giant churches?

1 comment:

Martin said...

Those Ostrobothnians were having something pretty cool going back in the Neolithic. Not just the "giant's churches" but other funny and labour-intensive structures as well. It's high time they dug one of those sites properly!