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Helgaberget – the holy hill – is a little rocky crag which thrusts itself a few metres above the terraced surface of Støle. The surface of the rock is strewn with figures inscribed in the rock and it was, as far as one can judge, a cult centre in the Bronze Ages. The name could indicate that the tradition of holiness can have lasted for almost 3,000 years.
The stone church at Støle may have been built around 1160 probably as a private chapel for the mighty Stødle clan. It is likely that it was Erling Skakke, the king’s representative and father of king Magnus Erlingsson, who built the church.
The grand farm Aga on the west side of Sørfjorden, came under protection in 1937, when the agricultural reform threatened to disperse the old clustered settlement. “Lagmannsstova”, named after the “lagmann” (law speaker) Sigurd Brynjulfsson, was already protected in 1924; one of the authentic profane wooden buildings from the Middle Ages still standing. All the same it is the farmyard itself that is the key cultural monument.
The farm Jåstad, situated a few kilometres north of Agatunet, must have been a grand farm in medieval times. Torolf on Jåstad is mentioned as arbitration moderator in 1293, and in the vaulted corridor at Lyse Kloster Sigurd, farmer at Jåstad, and his wife Sigrid – the king’s kinswoman - are buried.
Kinsarvik has probably been a centre for the inner Hardanger districts back in prehistory. History tells us that in medieval times there was a marketing place, a “kaupang”, here; a connecting point in the communications between east and west. There were supposedly around 300 residents here but the place was likely wiped out in a great fire.
Ullensvang church, situated beside the vicarage, in idyllic surroundings on the headland just inside Lofthus municipality, is mentioned for the first time in written sources in 1309. At that time the present Gothic stone church must have been new. Judging by the style in the western portal and the eastern chancel windows, the church must have been built around 1300 or just before, probably by builders from Bergen influenced by the English Gothic style.
The permanently-protected Mosneselva River, with its meltwater from Folgefonna, runs out into Åkra Fjord by the roadless and uninhabited Mosnes. Those who once lived here were forced to surrender to the ravages of Nature. In the autumn of 1962 there was a flood so great that the people were driven from their farms.