Utstein kloster is a medieval monastery situated on the isle of Mosterøy in Rogaland, Norway ("kloster" is Norwegian for monastery). It is the best-preserved monastery in Norway from this period, and is currently used as an museum. It is possible to arrange dinners and concerts inside the Utstein cloister, and most of it is open to the public.

The monastery's history

The monastery was originally a Viking seat of power, and after the battle of Hafrsfjord in 872 Harald Hårfagre (Harald fair hair) moved in (displacing the previous owner Haklang). The Norwegian kings used Utstein as a seat of power intermediately until in 1264 when Magnus Lagabøter (Magnus law-maker) gave the buildings and grounds to the monastery of Saint Olav in Stavanger. Magnus then moved his royal court to Bergen.

The monks who moved in belonged to the order of Augustinus, and came from France, England and Denmark. It is believed that 20-30 monks lived on the monastery. The monks rebuilt the buildings to suit their purpose, building a large glass window into the eastern wall, and improving the acoustics in the main hall.

After the plagues of the 13th century the abbot of Utstein and the bishop of Stavanger began to disagree on some issues. This resulted in the siege of Utstein, and its eventual pillaging and burning in 1515. After the reformation of 1537 the number of monks living there was reduced and two years later the building was burnt down again. After the reformation the monastery was taken over by the Danish crown, and wasn't on Norwegian hands again until the 1700's, when Johan Frimann bought the site.

Since the reformation, the monastery has been used as a country house for rich families, and its grounds has been used for farms and sheep herding. In the 1900's restoration of the monastery began, and in 1965 it was ready to be opened to the public.

Currently, Utstein kloster is again being restored, and this time the outer walls of the monastery are being caulked again to restore the building to its' 1700's splendour.

Utstein kloster is believed to be haunted by Cecilia Garmann, wife of Christopher Garmann. Christopher failed to keep his deathbed promise to Cecilia about never marrying again, and died eight days after the new marriage - in 1779.

Sources include www.utstein-kloster.no