Brand new ancient cathedral to be built in Iceland?

A new idea has become increasingly popular over the last week or so: to rebuild the Mediaeval wooden cathedral at Skalholt, southwest Iceland. The area is historically one of the most important and sacred places in the country.

Planners hope that the new ‘ancient’ cathedral would be such a popular draw that entry fees would soon repay the cost of its construction and upkeep.

The church, proposed by Icelandair information officer Gudjon Arngrimsson, would be a scaled-up version of a model frame in the National Museum of Iceland, which was built on archaeological research at Skalholt.

The old church was not small, RUV reports. It was around 50 metres long, 12 metres wide and 14 metres up to the roof ridge. It was said to be the biggest wooden structure in the Nordic region in its day.

“It is of the traditional cathedral layout, built like a cross, but it is made from timber which is very unusual and what makes this building unique,” Arngrimsson said. “And it is also something new and innovative for the tourism sector because there is nothing at all like it here in Iceland.”

The idea is to build the cathedral just to the west of the present-day Skalholt church.

The appearance of the Skalholt area has been hotly debated by interested parties in recent years and Arngrimsson was at pains to point out that the cathedral idea is still very young. He says that a lot of research and preparation would have to be done beforehand; but adds that from an engineering standpoint the project is very much possible — maybe even fairly easily — and that it would be popular with visitors who would, in the end, pay for the entire project through admission fees.