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The grey alder forest down by the river in Stølsdalen is full of life. The many birds are very busy finding enough to eat from day to day – but the biggest challenge is to make oneself heard above the roar of the Stølselva River.
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.
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:
The farm Vik in Jondal has been one of the earliest settled farms in Jondal; a good and fertile farm east of the river. Legends hold that mighty men have lived in Vik, and it is easy to imagine that the farm may have been a chieftain’s seat for some time.
The old guesthouse location in Brattholmen on the east side of Litlesotra, was probably established in the first half of the 1700s. A list from 1748 mentions that the place “for some years has been inhabited by an Enrolled Sailor by the name of Peder Michelsen”. As was the case for most other military hosts, he was exempt from paying income tax.
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.
Up to 1842 it was necessary to have a royal letter of privilege in order to carry out trade. According to the law only city dwellers were allowed to obtain such a privilege, and in Hordaland it was thus the citizens of Bergen who owned and ran the trading centres. In 1842, following a liberalisation of the trading legislation, the privilege arrangement was abandoned and anyone could apply to the municipal council for permission to carry out trading activity. Landøy is one of the places that were established in this period.
In Christian IV’s diary from Norgesreisa (trip to Norway) in 1599, we find the reference or anecdote that is the origin of the name Bukken. A Dutch full-rigged ship once passed the mountain outcrops on the island with the guesthouse so close that a ram grazing there jumped down on a yardarm (rånokk), thus the name “Buch van Raa!”