Whoever wanders the mountain plateau will form time to time hit upon old mountain summer farms, with solid old stone sheds, half sunk into the ground; a building tradition that has roots into prehistoric times. When we have been satiated with untouched Nature, it is somewhat comforting to come upon the old mountain chalets - they represent a type of human encroachment that we not only accept, but appreciate. They arouse a feeling of recognition and are a distinct witness to how people in the rural communities have made use of even the most remote resources.
The biggest prehistoric burial site in Hordaland is situated at Hæreid. On top of the terrace expanse, inside the fine birch garden, is where they lie, the mounds and stone piles, on their own or in clusters, large and small, round and elongated – at least 350 in all.
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.
The transport exchange on the farm Vik in Eidfjord was an important part of the communication network in older times. This is where people secured transport by boat out in the fjord, those travelling across the mountain from east and down into Måbødalen. The transport exchange was situated at “Wiige grund”. Today the highway cuts through the farmyard; the main farmhouse from the 1800s lies on the upper side of the road, the large sea-house, with a bakery in former times, lies close to the fjord.
In the steep hillside in Hjølmodalen, a small side valley from Øvre Eidfjord (Upper Eidfjord), which has been a key entrance to the Hardanger Plateau, the hamlet of old farmhouses still lie clustered together. The yard is empty today, some of the houses are used in the summer, but the grass grows round all the corners.
High up above the fjord, at a height of 600m lie the two holdings at Kjeåsen. Today you can drive there by car, through a new tunnel that the power engineers in Sima have drilled. Until 1974 the only road went up the steep hillside, along iron bolted ladders across dizzying rocks – a road for the strong at heart.
Måbø is the uppermost farm in Måbødalen. This narrow and steep mountain valley has been one of the routes from the fjord communities up to the mountain plateau from times immemorial. We are not certain of the meaning of the name Måbø. Perhaps it has its origin in an Old Norse male name Mávi, from the name for seagull, már. The last syllable “bø” means farm. Today Måbø gives us a compact close-up of the subsistence economy: the small farm with the clearance piles, stone walls and a lane that guided the animals into the yard, at the foot of the great mountain expanse.
The old stone church at Eidfjord has an open position on the terrace at Lægreid. In a diploma from 1310 it transpires that Torgeir on Sponheim donated a gift for the erection of the church in Eidfjord. Thus we can assume that the church was under construction at the time. The elements in the style confirm such a dating.