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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.
Bruosen is one of the few river harbours in the county. As landing place for the churchgoers, this place and the boatshed environment follow a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages, but the country store of today is much younger.
Norheim, “the farm by the narrow sound” is mentioned in a diploma from the Middle Ages and in an inheritance document. This is one of the large farms in Hardanger, of those that belonged to the powerful families; Sandven in Kvam, Torsnes in Jondal, Aga in Ullensvang and Spånheim in Ulvik.