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HOLMEN AND THE KØLLE FAMILY Holmen lies by the fjord, innermost in Ulvikpollen. Originally this was a small smallholding or coast dweller’s place belonging to the farm Håheim. Major Johan Henrik Palludan obtained leasehold for a part of Holmen in 1773, and erected a grand house, as he was the head of Nordre Hardangerske kompani. In 1806 Mrs Palludin sold Holmen to the somewhat eccentric theologian Kristian Kølle, and thus the Kølle family came to Ulvik. Today the Kølle house in Holmen is gone, today it is the residence of the principal of the State horticultural school that occupies the ground – a villa in the dragon style from the turn of the previous century.
Freezing and thawing are processes that influence plant cover, move enormous blocks, stretche long mounds of earth, break open bedrock and create patterns in stone and earth.
They rest there, all as one, the silent witnesses of Western Norway's saga of creation: Precambrian basement, phyllite and thrust sheet. In the end came the glaciers and sculptured the vast landscape. Along the ground or on the horizon, from bicycle or on foot - the landscape tells its story - and it tells it clearer on Rallarvegen than many other places.
The ice cap that covered the land during each of the 40 past ice ages over the past 2 million years of Earth's history pressed down the crust of the earth - like a finger on a rubber ball. And when the ice finally loosened its grip 11,000 years ago, the earth's crust rose again, most where the ice was thickest, least where it was thin, quickly in the beginning, and later more slowly. To this day, the land in the inner part of Norway continues to rise by perhaps one millimetre per year. By and large, however, the crust in Hordaland has again reached equilibrium after the weight of the ice was removed.
The shift in the landscape is striking between the barren craggy moors north on Askøy and the green fields of Herdla, which has the county's biggest farm. The majority of Herdla, such as the island appears today, is a gift from the glacier: The glacier that advanced here over 12,000 years ago stopped at the northern tip of Askøy and took its time building up the moraine on Herdla. Since then, Herdla has been under continual transformation. The re-organisation of the loose sediment deposits continues today.
Numerous finds show that the settlement at Herdla goes back to prehistoric times, and the large estate at Herdla has enjoyed a central place in the nation’s history since High Middle Ages. As Ask, Herdla was part of the country estate Harald Hårfagre took over as he took command of the west of Norway.
From the 1500s Hop was noble estate for the law speaker in Bergen and Gulen judicial districts. Several of the law speakers were of noble descent, such as Hans Hansen Lillienskiold and Niels Knagenhielm. The beautiful main building, still standing, was erected by the Bergen merchant Thomas Erichsen in 1793-95. He also established a magnificent garden with an 800 metres long linden avenue reaching down to the stone boathouse at Hop harbour.
Ferstad is well worth a visit. The farm lies on a little hillock south of Lekven: a beautiful official residence from the 1700s.