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Numerous finds show that the settlement at Herdla goes back to prehistoric times, and the large estate at Herdla has enjoyed a central place in the nation’s history since High Middle Ages. As Ask, Herdla was part of the country estate Harald Hårfagre took over as he took command of the west of Norway.
Herdlevær lies on one of the small islands west of Hjeltefjorden, facing the North Sea and the big ocean. Today you may arrive there by car. The numerous islands are linked together by elegant bridge spans made of concrete. Fifty years ago it was half a day’s journey to get to Herdlevær from the mainland by your own rowing boat or ferry.
On the farm Hjelmo, furthest north in Øygarden, in the innermost part of a long bay, there is a fine boatshed collection with a church beside it. From times immemorial this has probably been the fish-shed location for these farm units and this was also the landing place for the churchgoers.
From the 1500s Hop was noble estate for the law speaker in Bergen and Gulen judicial districts. Several of the law speakers were of noble descent, such as Hans Hansen Lillienskiold and Niels Knagenhielm. The beautiful main building, still standing, was erected by the Bergen merchant Thomas Erichsen in 1793-95. He also established a magnificent garden with an 800 metres long linden avenue reaching down to the stone boathouse at Hop harbour.
“At thick of night a thundering knock on the door; the man in the house wakes up, jumps out and demands: Who cries? Yes, now you must out, the beacon shines on Høgenut. And in the same breath, every man knew that strife had hit the land.”
The prehistoric site at Årbakkasanden with menhirs and burial mounds has been visited, described and illustrated by many learned researchers through the last 350 years. All the same, we still know very little of this unique cultural monument.