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In the steep hillside in Hjølmodalen, a small side valley from Øvre Eidfjord (Upper Eidfjord), which has been a key entrance to the Hardanger Plateau, the hamlet of old farmhouses still lie clustered together. The yard is empty today, some of the houses are used in the summer, but the grass grows round all the corners.
Måbø is the uppermost farm in Måbødalen. This narrow and steep mountain valley has been one of the routes from the fjord communities up to the mountain plateau from times immemorial. We are not certain of the meaning of the name Måbø. Perhaps it has its origin in an Old Norse male name Mávi, from the name for seagull, már. The last syllable “bø” means farm. Today Måbø gives us a compact close-up of the subsistence economy: the small farm with the clearance piles, stone walls and a lane that guided the animals into the yard, at the foot of the great mountain expanse.
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.
Through Adolph Tidemand’s detailed close-ups of smokehouses in Kvam, the vicarage in Vikøy, where he lived during his painting trips through Hardanger, has obtained a central position in the Norwegian national romanticism.