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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.
In one of the frame-built haysheds at Nottveit, at holding No. 3, we discover that several of the staves have a medieval look, with large dimensions and carefully rounded edges. According to tradition, it was the farms Nottveit and Mostraumen that supplied the timber for the stave church at Mo, and it is not unlikely that these farms received the old timber in return when the new church was erected there in 1593.
Tthe Otterstad farms lie in the innermost part of Mofjorden, on the northwest side of the river. The row of stave-built boatsheds that belong to the farm were probably constructed a little after the middle of the 1800s. Both here and on the Mo side, the boatsheds were important storage places at the seashore; wood and other farm products intended for the town; corn and merchandise in return.