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Catharine Kølle: “Ullensvang”. Probably from around 1820. (Helge Sunde, owner: Universitetsmuseet i Bergen (22,1x28,9, B2436 f)).

Ullensvang church, situated beside the vicarage, in idyllic surroundings on the headland just inside Lofthus municipality, is mentioned for the first time in written sources in 1309. At that time the present Gothic stone church must have been new. Judging by the style in the western portal and the eastern chancel windows, the church must have been built around 1300 or just before, probably by builders from Bergen influenced by the English Gothic style.

Previously there have been either a stave church or a smaller stone church here. Originally the nave was shorter and without a steeple. During a restoration in 1883-84, supervised by cathedral architect Chr. Christie, the nave was extended by 5.5 metres and a western steeple was added. The old western portal was moved out into the new steeple base. On the church loft are wall tiles that show how the church was beautifully decorated internally around the middle of the 1600s.

Several gravestones, some from the Middle Ages are leaning against the wall at the northern sacristy. Two of them have legible inscriptions. On one of them is written: “her: hvilir: sira: ogmvdr: kåra: son: er: hans: årtid: VII: nato: eptir: festvmat: bodir: f: hanom”. (Here rests Sira Ogmund Kåreson. His year time (of death) is 7 nights after Matthias’ celebration (21 September). Pray for him.).

On the other side is written: “her: hvilrir: herra: sygyrdr: er: var: gula: tings: lo: madr: sonbryniolfs: a: aga: hans: åritd: er: prim: nottom: firir: michalmesso”. (Here rests Mr. Sigurd, who was a Gulatings man (repr. at the West Norway court), son of Brynjulf at Aga. His year time (of death) is 3 nights before Michael’s mass (29 September)).

  • “The monks’ steps” on the mountain path up from Lofthus.

“The Opedal monastery” and the monks' steps

  • Hertzberg, N. (1909) Fra min barndom og ungdomstid 1827-1856. Christiania.
  • Hertzberg, N. (1929) Prost Nils Hertzbergs reisebok ført på Ullensvang Prestegård 1806-1841. I: Den Norske Turistforenings Aarbok. S. 14-27.
  • Olafsen, O. (1911) Klosteret i Opedal. I: Hardanger. [Utne], Hardanger historielag, s. 47-52.
  • Olafsen, O. (1932) Kirken i Opedal. I: Hardanger. [Utne], Hardanger historielag, s. 30-36.
  • Opedal, H. O. (1968) Hardingar på sjøen: ferdsle i fjordane og langs kysten.
  • Storaas, R. (1991) Lykkens prøve: om hardingar på sjøen. Norheimsund.