The Old Church of Ytterlännäs belongs to Ytterlännäs parish in the province of Ångermanland in Northern Sweden. It is located between Nyland and Bollstabruk on the main road no. 333 in Kramfors Municipality. In terms of ecclesiastical divisions, the parish belonged to the Archdiocese of Uppsala in the Middle Ages, but has been part of the Diocese of Härnösand since that was formed in 1647.
The building dates from the early 13th century, retaining the original walls and the Romanesque outer door with its iron ornament around the keyhole, and a lion's head from c: 800 from the area of Byzantine cultural influence around Constantinople.
From the 14th century there is a marble baptismal font from Gotland, and a crucifix.
In the 15th century a vestry and a 'weapon-house' (porch) were added, the choir was extended to make it as wide as the rest of the church, the roof was raised with vaults of brick, the windows enlarged, the Maria-bell was cast, and there is a candle-holder featuring a cock and a spiral central pillar. In the vaults and on the walls there are well-preserved frescos from the late 15th century, featuring a variety of biblical references and the legends of saints. It also includes an inscription interpreted by the art historian Henrik Cornell in 1918 as spelling maalede Eghil, "painted by Eghil". This was re-interpreted by Einar Bager in a 1969 publication as simply the incipit of the alphabet; the anonymous painter, who belonged to the Tierp school, is now known as Alfabetsmästaren, the Alphabet Master.
An altarpiece in the Lübeck style has been displayed in several positions.
The Ytterlännäs Madonna from Haaken Gulleson's Hälsingland workshop features both the coat of arms of the archdiocese, to which the church belonged at the time, and the personal arms (the claw of an eagle) of Archbishop Jakob Ulfsson, and is presumably a donation made on the occasion of his visit in 1507.
From the 17th century there are pews, a wooden floor with broad planks and one panel of a pulpit; the first of the galleries' three sections is dated 1652.
In the 18th century a rare second gallery was added, as well as a new pulpit and a new altarpiece featuring a sculpture of the Last Supper with 1+13 round the table. Under protest the paintings of saints on the wall, the saints images in the ceilings and the other decoration was not touched. In 1773 the separate bell-tower burned down and was replaced by mounting the bells above the church itself, under a broken roof.
In the mid-19th century a larger church was needed to house the growing population, and it was decided to re-use the stones from the old church to build a new: but in an impassioned and rhetorical speech, magistrate Carl Martin Schönmeyer, the owner of the estate Angsta gård, managed to turn the decision in favour of leaving the old church untouched. It was abandoned and the Maria-bell was used at the smaller of two bells in the new church.
The Ytterlännäs new church was opened in 1854 with Israel Israelsson Näslund (1796-1858) as the vicar.
In 1937 art historian and newspaper editor Gustaf Näsström made a plea for donations towards a restoration of the church, after which the whitewash was carefully removed a far as was possible; in 1950, to mark the 100th anniversary of the decision not to demolish the old church, the Maria-bell was returned from the new church.
In 1963 architect Lars Holmer carried out detailed measurements and drew elevations from east, west and south, a plan, and sections along the breadth and length.
In 1964 the brother Gösta and Torsten Melin made a documentary film, which was certified by Prof. Henrik Cornell as 'the first colour film made in Sweden about a mediaeval church'; in 1978 they also filmed the extensive renovation which was carried out then; both films are now available on DVD.
In 1995 the Old Church became a 'roadside church' and today it is open seven days a week for seven weeks after mid-summer, with guiding, a coffee house, a mediaeval workshop, music and other activities.