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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 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 old “recorder residence” at Helleland has been both residence for the district recorder and officer’s residence. The main building, which came under protection in 1924, was built in 1764 by the curate Christian Heiberg. When he was appointed parish priest in Jølster, he sold the farm to the state employee Geelmuyden, who resold the farm to Hans De Knagenhielm in 1774. He was the head of “Søndre Hardangerske kompani” (a local army division).
Hesthamar, some kilometres north of Utne, is one of the oldest residences for a district recorder in the country. In 1637, barely 50 years after the office of the district recorder was established in 1591, the local people bought this residence from the bailiff Lauritz Johnsen on Torsnes. From 1659 the district recorders lived here, intermittently, up to 1790. This is when Helleland at Lofthus became a “recorder” farm.
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.
When sergeant Peder Larsen Børsem from Strandebarm was “demobilised” in 1721, following the large Nordic War, he married the Bergen lady Elisabeth Schrøder and settled as innkeeper at Utne with a letter of privilege from the county governor dated 29 October 1722.