In 1266 “brann hallin i Biorgyn” (the hall in Biorgyn burned down) the Icelandic annals recount. The building we call Håkonshallen must be one of the “two good stone halls” built on the initiative of king Håkon Håkonsson, identical to the “stone hall” in which the most prominent male guests sat during the wedding and crowning celebrations of the successor to the throne, Magnus, in September 1261. At the crowning of the Håkon himself a long boatshed had to serve as venue. The hall is built on the pattern of European imperial halls, while the details point to English models. Håkon had close contacts with king Edward, who had recently built Westminster Hall.
Alrekstad (later Årstad) is the birthplace of Bergen. The estate was an estate for Harald Hårfagre and several of his descendants: Eirik Blodøks, Håkon den gode og Olav Tryggvason. These first kings moved with their courts and guardsmen from estate to estate. From these estates the king ruled the country.
When high school student Arne Handegard collected plants for a herbarium in 1962, he didn’t know what kind of rarity he had pressed into his notebook. 30 years later he attended a botanical lecture, where a picture was shown of a plant he recognized: “Norwegian Sagebrush, which in Norway is only found in a large area of Dovre and in Trollheimen, and in a little area in Ry county”. Arne Handegard raised his hand: “That plant grows on Mt. Jonstein in Jondal”.
When bishop J.Neumann was on a visitation in Hardanger in 1825 he also visited Torsnes, the seat of the Galtung family. They were then in the process of pulling down the old dwelling house on the farm. As the committed observer of ancient monuments and antiquarian buildings that he was, bishop Neumann has provided us with interesting details:
Many mountain plants are well prepared to face cold and wind. Some would surely rather face an easier life in the lowlands, but they cannot compete with the higher-growing plants living there. Most mountain plants manage to compete for light and space only if they cling to the bedrock and gravel in the harsh high alpine climate.