Torpo stave church is definitely worth a visit inside. The beautifully carved beams and, above all, the colourful painted canopy with scenes from the Bible are absolutely unique. The crossing beams make the construction of the church transparent, with just wooden joints and no nails having been used to keep the structure together. A real masterpiece of mediaeval craftsmanship!
If you look carefully at the paintings on the canopy at the Torpo Stavkirke, you will notice a figure of a woman being tortured. That's St. Margaret, a martyr who preferred to die rather than break her vows. Her father was a pagan priest in Asia Minor but, her mother having died soon after her birth, the girl was brought up by a pious woman and converted to Christianity, vowing to remain a virgin to the end of her days.
One day a Roman prefect by the name of Olybrius saw her with her flocks and begged and threatened her to become his concubine or wife. True to her vows, she turned down his advances and for that was put on trial. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, she refused and was sentenced to death by burning. But, miraculously, the flames left her unhurt. She was then tied up and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but, in response to her prayers, the bonds were broken and no harm came to her again. In the end, the prefect ordered her to be beheaded. Typically, she is represented as a shepherdess with her flocks or with a large vessel into which she was plunged, the scene you can see in the picture.
Torpo Stavkirke is a unique example of 12th century timber churches in Norway. Built around 1192, it is worth making a detour via Hallingdalen on your way from Bergen to Oslo. To enter it, you must visit the cottage next door and, on paying your admission fees (30 NOK per person if I remember well), the custodian will open the fantastically carved door for you with an enormous key. The interior is stunning, with its intricate wooden beams and the beautiful colourful paintings on the wooden canopy. Photography is forbidden but, afterwards, I bought a few postcards and will show them to you to give this wonderful place more publicity.