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Halnelægeret. (Helge Sunde)

At Halnefjorden, a few hundred metres east of Halne mountain lodge, lie the remains of two stone sheds – Halnelægeret. Some generations ago the cattle drovers stopped here in the summer; they were the cowboys of their time. But Halnelægeret already had a long history before the cattle drovers came.

In the old days the largest shed was used for overnight stops for travellers between West and East Norway. Some are of the opinion that this is the “Bishop's Dwelling” mentioned in sources from the 1600s in connection with visitations by the Stavanger bishop, on his way to the easternmost part of his bishopric. Right up to 1631 Hallingdal and Valdres belonged under the Stavanger bishopric.

Archaeological excavations have shown that the largest dwelling has been in use from the Middle Ages, and the bishopric connection may thus be correct. Here were finds of tin buttons and bits of clay pipes, iron nails and masses of horseshoe nails.

But even before the dwellings were built, there have been people there. In the gravel slope below the place there are some buried hollowed-out forms, filled with red-burned stones. Such cooking depressions were common on the Hardanger Plateau in early Iron Age. They may easily be as old as 1,500 or 2,000 years old. Some metres further north are the remains of a settlement from the Bronze Age, between 3,500 and 3,000 years old. Here around 40 arrow points made of flint and quarts were found. Close by was a 3,500 year old place for making fire, with remains of reindeer bones.

In the areas around Halnefjorden there have been found a number of settlements from the Stone and the Bronze ages. Along the beach, from Halne, for two kilometres eastwards, nine have been found. The oldest of them is more than 8,000 years old.


  • Slaughtering of reindeer at the settlement.

Slaughtering of reindeer at the settlement. Reconstruction. (akvarell: Else Lauvanger, 1993).

  • Animal traps at Lausheldretjørna. (Svein Nord)

The Hardanger plateau - A pantry through 8,500 years

The reindeer antlers in the municipal coat of arms for Eidfjord is a reminder of how important reindeer hunting has been for the people in the communities around the Hardanger Plateau. In needy times it was often the reindeer that people relied on for food. A chap from Hjølmo reminisced about the poor conditions in his childhood in the 1870s. “The reindeer hunting saved us. Were it not for this we would have starved to death”.


The Stone Age settlements are found by the hundreds at river mouths, where the trout glinted, or along the beaches of the inland lakes, where the reindeer trekked. Animal traps, bow mounts, rows of lookout posts and hunting sheds lie around as forgotten ruins. The last cattle drover has become history, but green hillocks and rich grass by stone sheds and cattle grazing places still remind us of mountain pastures and drover trading. The mountain dwellings lie like rings around the mountain plateau. Bush and forest now hide the old sites, where the cowgirls ruled the roost, where the cattle fattened after the spring starvation, and the farmer gathered the surplus for survival for himself and his family.


Over the entire Plateau, from Jøkulen to Møsstrond, there are reminders of those who lived of what the mountain could offer, be they large wild animals, fish, berries or mountain farm produce. For many people the Hardanger Plateau has been a well-stocked pantry, right from the first hunting people came there 8,500 year ago and up to our time.

  • Indrelid, S. (1994) Fangstfolk og bønder i fjellet: bidrag til Hardangerviddas førhistorie 8500-2500 før nåtid. Universitetets oldsaksamlings skrifter. Oslo, Universitetets oldsaksamling.