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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.
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.
The post house at Øpstad stands out in the landscape. An ochre yellow house with a loft and a white-painted house in Swiss style with ochre edgings, bears witness to a well preserved house from the 1800s, nearest neighbour to the beautiful old vicarage. In the Øpstad hamlet there was a post office for more than a hundred years, until the 1970s. Today it is possible to walk the old post road across the mountain to Strandvik, as part of “Den Stavangerske Postvei” (The post road to Stavanger).
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.
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.
The fishnet shed at Notaholmen stands as a reminder of the days when people used to row out on the fjord to set their nets. On Notaholmen the nets were dried, repaired and tanned. And it was a great advantage to store them in a place inaccessible for rats and mice.
In the years between the wars a major registration of houses and house costumes, house construction methods, fireplaces and forms of housing clusters was started in West Norway – an ambitious mapping of everything that came under the name “Registration of Culture and Geography in West Norway”. One of the places of which material was gathered in 1938 was an old multi-room house at Golta; new and interesting material for the researchers from the Historical Museum, but well known within the local building tradition through several generations.