On the farm of Arnatveit, high up on the slope above the highway, an old smokehouse remains standing in the courtyard of the main farm property, in the place of the old common courtyard. Today this farm lies at the outskirts of a large housing estate. Most of the farmland of the other farm properties has been sold to benefit the city’s need of sites for the new community of Arna.
In the 1300s Bergen was a trading centre of European dimension. The town is thought to have had around 7000 inhabitants and was the largest and most important in the country. In a European context it was an average size town. At this time the most tightly built town area was still mostly east of Vågen from Holmen in the north to Vågsbotn in the south. Already in medieval times, latest in the 1340s, this area was called Bryggen.
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.
In the Scholeus engraving (section on the right) from the 1850s the fortified king’s estate at the entrance to Vågen has become a modern Renaissance palace – Bergenhus palace. The church edifices have disappeared. The picture is now dominated by the tower “the small castle by the sea”, which had recently gone through a considerable enlargement.
Vågsbotn was the name of the innermost part of the eastern part of town from Auta-almenning (today’s Vetrlidsalmenning), skirting the bottom of Vågen to Allehelgenskirken (All Saints’ Church) (at the present Allehelgensgate). In early medieval times Vågen reached almost all the way to Olavskirken (the Cathedral). It was a relatively wide bay inside the premonitory where Korskirken was built. The area was therefore much shorter than what is known as Vågsbunnen today.
Down by the fjord at Svåsand, close to the main highway, there is a long row of boathouses, one of the well-preserved, older boathouse locations along the Hardanger fjord. It is the farms at Svåsand that have their boathouses here, four main farms with origins far back in time.
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.
Landro has been the largest estate on Sotra, including 15 farms with reasonable conditions for agriculture. Their boathouses have had an excellent harbour in Landrovågen. Landro thus has been a good basis for the combination of agriculture and fishing.