fylkiskirkja (ON) noun

A primary church for an entire district (fylki) according to GuL, but there are two fylkiskirkjur per district in BorgL and three in EidsL. It may be synonymous with a höfuðkirkja (q.v.) or stórkirkja. It has at times been equated to a burial church (graptarkirkja) as well, but this assumption is probably inaccurate. It was the duty of the bishop and the king to decide which churches were to be designated as a fylkiskirkja. All other churches in the fylki would then be subordinate to it. Bishops confirmed children and led services once a year at the fylkiskirkja.

A fylkiskirkja has also been identified as a type of church which replaced the heathen höfuðhof (‘chief temple’) during the early stages of conversion to Christianity. Thereafter it became the mother church for all høgendiskirkjur, heraðskirkjur, fjórðungskirkjur and áttungskirkjur in each fylki.

Tradition states that Olaf Tryggvason commanded the fylkiskirkjur to be built, and his order was carried out during the reign of St. Olaf. In Ólafs saga helga it is recorded that a mark of weighed silver was to be paid to the fylkiskirkja each year from the church’s estates. This was to be used for the maintenance of the fylkisprestr (q.v.). According to FrL KrbA 45, ordeals were performed at the fylkiskirkja. The priest of a fylkiskirkja, his wife and his dean were exempt from the levy (leiðangr, see leþunger) according to FrL Leþ 17.

Brink (2013b, 34−35) equates fylkiskirkjur and höfuðkirkjur with the Swedish hundareskirkior. These churches served a large area with no defined territorial boundaries and functioned as a kind of early stage of church hierarchy in the North during the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

{fylkis} church ONorw GuL Krb
county church ONorw BorgL 8
ONorw FrL KrbA 7

Brink 2013b; F s.v. fylkiskirkja; NGL V s.v. fylkiskirkja; Maurer 1908; RGA s.v. Kirchenverfassung, Pfründe; Skre 2007, 394−95.

  • ‘fylkiskirkja’. A Lexicon of Medieval Nordic Law.

  • http://www.dhi.ac.uk/lmnl/nordicheadword/displayPage/1567