Steinvikholm Castle

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Coordinates: 63°32′37″N 10°48′47″E / 63.54361°N 10.81306°E / 63.54361; 10.81306

Steinvikholm Castle (Steinvikholm slott)
First story floor plan of the Steinvikholmen

Steinvikholm Castle (Steinvikholm slott) is an island fortress on the Skatval peninsula near Stjørdal in Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway. The castle was built over seven years, from 1525 to 1532, by Norway's last Roman Catholic Archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson.[1] Steinvikholm castle became a powerful fortification by the time it was built, and it is the largest construction raised in the Norwegian middle age.[2][3]


Topographic plan of Steinvikholm from 1875

The castle occupies about half of the land on the rocky island. The absence of a spring meant that fresh water had to be brought from the mainland. A wooden bridge served as the only way to the island other than boat. Although the castle design was common across Europe in 1525, its medieval design was becoming obsolete because of the improved siege firepower offered by gunpowder and cannons.[4]


The castle was constructed after Olav Engelbrektsson returned from a meeting with the Pope in Rome, presumably in anticipation of impending military-religious conflict.[5]

As Archbishop Engelbrektsson's resistance to the encroachment of Danish rule escalated, first with Frederick I of Denmark and his successor Christian III of Denmark, Steinvikholm Castle and Nidarholm Abbey became the Roman Catholic Church's military strongholds in Norway. In April 1537, the Danish-Norwegian Reformation succeeded in driving the archbishop from the castle into exile at Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), where he died on 7 February 1538. At the castle the archbishop left behind St. Olav's shrine and other treasures from Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim). The original coffin containing St. Olav's body remained at Steinvikholm until it was returned to Nidaros Cathedral in 1564. Since 1568 St. Olav's grave in Nidaros has been unknown.[6]

From the 17th to 19th century, the island was used as a quarry and some of its masonry was sold and removed from the site. This activity was condoned by the Danish-Norwegian authorities as a way of eliminating a monument to the opposition of the Danish–Norwegian Union.

Modern usage[edit]

Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments (Fortidsminneforeningen). The island has been the site of the midnight opera, Olav Engelbrektsson, which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.[7]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Olav Engelbrekktson (University of Norway Documentation)
  2. ^ Auran, Per Agnar (2007). Skatval. Vår historiske arv. Skatval Historielag. pp. bind 5, 433. 
  3. ^ Leirfall, Jon (1969). Steinvikholm - borgen og byggherren. Steinvikholms venner. p. 10. 
  4. ^ "Steinvikholm slott". Fortidsminneforeningen. Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  5. ^ Steinvikholm slott (Norsk institutt for kulturminneforskning)
  6. ^ Olav Engelbrekktson (University of Norway Documentation)
  7. ^ Olav Engelbrektsson Opera Trøndelag

Other sources[edit]

  • Hoem, Edvard Kom fram, fryste! (Aschehoug Agency Publishers. 2006)

External links[edit]