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Alvøen is one of the oldest industrial places in Norway. As early as the 1620s a gunpowder mill was built here. The place itself was well situated for industrial activity, lying only 100 m from the waterfall, which provided power for the mill, and a good harbour wherefrom the products were shipped. The success of the gun-powder mill varied in the 1600s and 1700s, but what made Alvøen best known was its paper production.
Everyone knows the famous painting by Tidemand & Gude “Brudeferden i Hardanger” (The Wedding Party in Hardanger) one of the great icons in the National Gallery. Some have, in a humorous lack of respect for this masterpiece linked the concept of “bride’s passage” to another pictorial presentation in Hardanger. This is found on the farm Bakko in Herand, carved in the rock by an unknown artist around 3,000 years ago.
Down by the fjord on the farm Berge in Tørvikbygd, is Stekkavika – a sheltered eastward facing harbour, protected against the fjord by headlands and rocks, even manifest in the name. Here is also a comprehensive milieu of coastal industry, with boathouses and sea-sheds that belong to the farms Berge, Heradstveit and Halleråker. Belonging to the farm Berge there is also a mill-house, circular saw, workshop for sloop building, and – a little further up into the woods – the old water-powered sash-saw.
The industrial settlement Bjørsvik
"What an adventure it was, that big ships came from foreign lands, to collect something so simple as ice. They came like a gust from the wider world, to a little, forgotten village society", wrote local historian Knut L.Måge.
In Etne there are no less than four defensive refuges. They are all situated in strategic positions, so that they have served as places of refuge and protection for central parts of the district
On the farm Bø, close to the highway between Bulken and Voss lies Byrkjehaugen, one of the largest burial mounds in West Norway. Originally it was around 50m across and 5m high, but following the excavation in 1908 and chipping off by both railway and road construction, the cross-section has shrunk to 37m and the height to 4m. All the same, it is an impressive burial monument for the passing traveller to see.
The Dale farm lies well situated on the gravel by the river, below the mountain Beitelen. But a few stone throws further north, on the wide expanse behind the houses, there has been an older farmstead. Here there have been found a number of cooking hollows, pole holes, an old road and traces of something believed to have been a palisade. Finds from this oldest farmstead may be dated to the time of the migrations, 400-600 years A.D.