On 6 June 1992, the Fantoft stave church, one of Norway’s architectural treasures dating from the 12th century, was burned to the ground via arson. By January 1993, arson attacks had occurred on at least seven other major stave churches, including one on Christmas Eve of 1992. Vars Vikernes of Burzum was found guilty of several of these cases; but not arson of the Fantoft Stave Church: the attempted arson of Storetveit Church in Bergen and the arson of Åsane Church in Bergen, Skjold Church in Vindafjord, and Holmenkollen Chapel in Oslo. He was also charged with the arson of Fantoft stave church, although the jurors voted not guilty. The judges called this an error but did not overthrow the whole case.
Vikernes was rumored to have been motivated both by paganism and theistic Satanism, but has denied he was ever a Satanist.
In an interview with Michael Moynihan Vikernes made a statement about the church burnings that hints at a heathen rather than a Satanist motivation:
“I am not going to say that I burnt any churches. But let me put it this way: There was one person who started it. I was not found guilty of burning the Fantoft stave church, but anyway, that was what triggered the whole thing. That was the 6th of June and everyone linked it to Satanism … What everyone overlooked was that on the 6th June, year 793, in Lindesfarne in Britain was the site of the first known Viking raid in history, with Vikings from Hordaland, which is my county … They [the Christians] desecrated our graves, our burial mounds, so it’s revenge.”
In fact, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the raid took place on either the 8th of January or the 8th of June 793.
Echoing this sentiment, he writes in Vargsmål: “For each devastated graveyard, one heathen grave is avenged, for each ten churches burnt to ashes, one heathen hof is avenged, for each ten priests or freemasons assassinated, one heathen is avenged.”
When asked whether the church burnings were linked to Odinism or Ásatrú he replied: “The point is that all these churches [i.e. church burnings] are linked to one person … who was not Øystein obviously. All the church burnings, with the exception of Stavanger, because that was another group (who, by the way, have also turned into nationalistic pagans).”