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In the 1300s Bergen was a trading centre of European dimension. The town is thought to have had around 7000 inhabitants and was the largest and most important in the country. In a European context it was an average size town. At this time the most tightly built town area was still mostly east of Vågen from Holmen in the north to Vågsbotn in the south. Already in medieval times, latest in the 1340s, this area was called Bryggen.
As a fairytale castle Damsgård Hovedgård lies on the slope rising up from the Puddefjord. The old connection between the farm and the sea, as we see it on Dreier’s prospectus from 1810, has been broken up by roads and encroachments in the building mass. But the main building itself is a central monument in Norwegian architecture from the 1700s – one of the finest representatives for the rococo period, with a magnificent and rich décor both in its interior and exterior.
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.
Farming in Austevoll has nearly all been in combination with fishing as the main industry. The farms in the district are therefore small, even in a west Norwegian context.
Salhus has been a connecting point for sea travellers far back in time. The name probably derives from the Old Norse word sáluhús, “house for travellers”. The name may indicate that this was a place for an inn even in the Middle Ages. The place is eminently situated in the route to and from Bergen. For travellers coming by boat from Sogn and Nordhordland, Salhus is the last stop before Bergen. Travellers from the communities in Voss also came this way earlier when they were going to Bergen
On the south side of Askøy, just west of Bergen, lies Strusshamn. The sheltered bay is one of the best harbours in Byfjorden, on the route south. At the time of the sailing ships the harbour could be full of vessels from Bergen and abroad, lying in wait for favourable wind. Old anchoring rings from 1687 bear witness to this. Strusshamn was a quarantine harbour for ships that came sailing in with the yellow pest flag flying.