Orientations of the Medieval Stone Churches in Finland
In 1290-1560 A.D., about one hundred stone churches were built in Finland. About eighty of those have survived to date, some of them in a ruined state. In this study, the orientations of 81 Medieval Finnish stone churches were measured. The obtained results were related to the ecclesiastical calendar used in Medieval Finland and the historical records of the folk beliefs concerning the feast days of saints. The results showed the church orientations to be mainly towards the eastern and north-eastern directions. The orientations of individual churches were, within the given error limits, found to be mainly towards the sunrises of the day of the equinox as given by the various definitions of the equinox. The orientations of some churches may have been intended towards the sunrises of the feast days of saints, although it was observed that, generally, the churches were not oriented towards the sunrises of the feast days of their patron saints. The general form of the orientation distribution can be explained by orientations towards the sunrises of the equinoxes, with contributions from the orientations towards the sunrises of the feast days of some individual saints and the Easter Day.