The farms in Modalen are situated on old, fertile sediment beds from the river or the sea – between Mofjorden and Steinslandvatnet. As far back as the Middle Ages Mo has been a church location for the valley and the farms above.
In one of the frame-built haysheds at Nottveit, at holding No. 3, we discover that several of the staves have a medieval look, with large dimensions and carefully rounded edges. According to tradition, it was the farms Nottveit and Mostraumen that supplied the timber for the stave church at Mo, and it is not unlikely that these farms received the old timber in return when the new church was erected there in 1593.
Tthe Otterstad farms lie in the innermost part of Mofjorden, on the northwest side of the river. The row of stave-built boatsheds that belong to the farm were probably constructed a little after the middle of the 1800s. Both here and on the Mo side, the boatsheds were important storage places at the seashore; wood and other farm products intended for the town; corn and merchandise in return.
The large mountain area between Modalen, the Voss communities and Sogn is one of the finest mountain pasture areas in West Norway. In older times this area was called Steinslandsheimen, in our times it has acquired the name Stølsheimen. Power development and protection interests have been opposed here. The core area of Stølsheimen has now been protected as a landscape protection area, while some of the oldest mountain farms have been flooded. A register in the 1970s comprised almost 40 mountain farm settlements in the central area of Stølsheimen, belonging to Modalen, Høyanger and Vik municipalities.
The biggest collection of prehistoric burial relics in Stord is to be found in Hystadmarka. There are still 16 burial mounds and two stone rings visible here; finds that span from the Bronze Age to the Viking Age in time.
The district prison in Leirvik officially started operations in 1863. Together with the corresponding institutions in Voss and Bergen, this was Søndre Bergenhus’ part of the great Norwegian prison provisions in accordance with the Law on Prisons from 1857.
Already in the Middle Ages the good harbour at Leirvik provided a connecting point. Here was a court of law, and a guesthouse was established here in the 1600s. But Leirvik never achieved the status of a trading post or a ship-loading place. In the census of 1865 parts of the farms Nordre Bjelland, Leirvik and Orninggård are mentioned as the “Coastal district of Lervig”. And the community grew around the old guesthouse location early in the 1800s.
The first finds of pyrite at Litlabø in Stord came to light in 1864. Forty years later sulphuric ore was mined from an open mine. From 1874 to 1880 it was used for dynamite production. That came to a sudden end when the factory exploded and three people died.