The saga regarding the settlement of Hordaland started off about 10,000 years ago. Most of this saga has been recorded in writing, not on paper, but on stone and on the earth in the forest and the marshes.
From 4,500 to 5,000 years ago most of Hordaland was a landscape of forest, right out to the coast and the islands. With our inner eye we can see old oak trees putting their stamp on the heat-loving deciduous forest.
When Professor Emeritus Knut Fægri (1909-2001) was asked to write the book's chapter about the natural science pioneers of Hordaland, he answered unequivocally, "yes". It was one of the last things he wrote before he died, at the age of 92. In typical Fægri language he presents some of the scholars who, in the time before the University of Bergen was founded, led the way in studying the natural science of The West Country.
Almost nothing is as solid, unchangeable and stable as the Norwegian Precambrian basement rocks. Here, there are no volcanic eruptions or violent earthquakes that can cause natural catastrophes. But, it has not always been that way! There have been periods when glowing hot lava flowed over it or when large parts of the Precambrian basement have "taken a beating", both in Precambrian times and during the Caledonian mountain-building event.
The Himalaya Mountain Chain is being formed by the Indian continental plate colliding w the Asian continent. This happens because the earth’s continental plates are constantly moving in relation to each other. Sometimes they crash together and form large collision zones or mountain chains. The collision between India and the Asian continent has created the world's highest mountain and thickest continental crust. But the creation of the Himalaya mountain chain is essentially just a repeat of what happened more than 400 million years ago when Western Norway and Greenland collided and formed the Caledonian mountain range. That mountain-building event caused quite dramatic changes in topography, climate and crustal thickness, and resulted in both volcanism and a lot of earthquake activity. In addition,
The Caledonian mountain chain is an example of how plate movements and continental drift can cause collisions and the upheaval of huge mountain chains. After the horizontal compressional forces ceased, the forces of gravity, wind and water took over and started the process of eroding away the mountain chain. But, nearer to our time the land rose up again to a plateau landscape in the east which slanted down toward the ocean in the west!
Hordaland has been through several "Stone Ages". The first was in the real Stone Age, with Bømlo as its centre. Hard stone as tools and weapons was the normal occupation for Bømlo folk. The next started a ways into the 1800s. Building stone and cobblestones in the street became popular in cities throughout the country. The last stone age is just about twenty years old - after a long period of dominance by asphalt and cement, natural stone has again become desirable in streets and squares, in roads and as building facades.
Ølve has the oldest known mines in Hordaland. In 1642, privilege was granted by the king to build an iron works in Jernsmuget on the property of Lilledals Farm, and five years later a copper works on the same property. Operations were suspended in 1673. Mining resumed again in the municipality in the 1750s. Also this time, in the region of Ølve.
Already in the 1750s, Erik Pontioppidan fantasized about the possibility of petroleum in the North Sea, in "Forsøg til Norges naturlige Historie" (= Studies of Norway's Natural History) "The North Sea’s oiliness is, next to its saltiness, a remarkable feature. It can be expected that in the sea, as on land, there lie hidden some oil seepages or petroleum flows, naphtha, schist-oil and other bituminous and oily liquids”. More than 200 years were to pass before these predictions came true. In recent years, an unbelievable 120,000 cubic metres of oil and 70 million cubic metres of gas are pumped up from the Oseberg and Troll reservoirs every day. This fairy tale is being played out less than 80 kilometres from the coast of Hordaland, which is not further than that one could see the oil platforms from the coastal mountains on a clear day.
Hordaland er en scene for naturens mange vekslinger – i topografi, berggrunn, vegetasjon og dyreliv, gjennom klimaperioder og årstider.