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Havrå and the arable fields up to the enclosed meadow.

Havrå and the arable fields up to the enclosed meadow. (Svein Nord).

In the sunny, steep fjord landscape along Sørfjorden on the east side of Osterøy is the farm Havrå. The small “hamlet” is one of the few undisturbed farming communities that gives us the impression of the large communal yards in West Norway in the 1700s, with houses built close together and strips of arable land.

Havrå is probably associated with the Old Norse “hafr”, which means “buck” (billly goat). It is easy to imagine that Havrå has been a poor farm with a meagre livelihood. But that is not the case. Havrå is a well-off farm, with large outlying grounds. Two abandoned farms were taken over by Havrå, probably after the Black Death in 1349.

At the end of the Middle Ages Havrå was split into two evenly sized units. The church owned one of them, land-owning farmers the other. Most of the farmers were tenant farmers up to 1700. For one of the farms the tenancy lasted right up to 1878.

The boundary went from the old fenced-in meadow down to the fjord. The two farms had a common meadow. But the western farm also had cornfields on the east side. That is where the best grain fields were situated.

A just distribution of the most fertile ground was the principle of all future land distributions. This is the basis for the pattern that developed by and by, with 8-12 arable strips for every farm. As early as the 1600s Havrå was divided into eight evenly sized units. In the middle of the 1800s there were nine units on the farm, but in 1907 one of the farms was split between five of the others. In 1900 60 people lived in the hamlet.

The clustered community

Havrå, Osterøy

Havrå (Svein Nord)

Juniper shed at Havrå

Juniper shed at Havrå (Svein Nord)

The yard “passage” through Havråtunet.

The yard “passage” through Havråtunet. (Svein Nord)

Map of the farm strips at Havrå around 1906.

Map of the farm strips at Havrå around 1906. (section) (Brita Skre/Sverre Mo, 1992)

  • Austad, I. og Skogen, A. (1988) Harvåtunet i Osterøy kommune: en botanisk-økologisk analyse og en plan for istandsetting og skjøtsel av kulturlandskapet. Økoforsk, rapport 1988 (13).
  • Havrå Osterøy: Hordaland: det brattlendte fjordlandskapet (1990). I: Norske kulturlandskap. Temabrosjyre nr. 2.
  • Hope, K. (1991) Ressursbruk på Havrågården. I: Osterøy i soge og samtid, s. 20-24.
  • Skre, B. G. (1991) Osterøy. I: Jord og gjerning: årbok for Norsk Landbruksmuseum, s. 88-105.