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The grand farm Aga on the west side of Sørfjorden, came under protection in 1937, when the agricultural reform threatened to disperse the old clustered settlement. “Lagmannsstova”, named after the “lagmann” (law speaker) Sigurd Brynjulfsson, was already protected in 1924; one of the authentic profane wooden buildings from the Middle Ages still standing. All the same it is the farmyard itself that is the key cultural monument.
The farm Frøystein by the Ulvik fjord is commonly called Fryste. In 1614 the name was written Frøstemb – an obvious Danish influence – and the form Frøsten was used up until the land register in 1886 and 1907. It is probable that the name of the farm originally was Frystvin; a vin-name. Thus it has no connection with neither Frøy (Norse fertility god) nor stein (stone).
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.
HOLMEN AND THE KØLLE FAMILY Holmen lies by the fjord, innermost in Ulvikpollen. Originally this was a small smallholding or coast dweller’s place belonging to the farm Håheim. Major Johan Henrik Palludan obtained leasehold for a part of Holmen in 1773, and erected a grand house, as he was the head of Nordre Hardangerske kompani. In 1806 Mrs Palludin sold Holmen to the somewhat eccentric theologian Kristian Kølle, and thus the Kølle family came to Ulvik. Today the Kølle house in Holmen is gone, today it is the residence of the principal of the State horticultural school that occupies the ground – a villa in the dragon style from the turn of the previous century.
The farm Huse is situated on a broad terrace in the valley above the church and the commons ground in Kinsarvik. Huse is one of the largest farms in Kinsarvik. The house from the Middle Ages, still standing at Huse today, probably from the middle of 1200, is joined on to a house in the Swiss style from around 1890. This house, with a smoke-vent in the roof, bears witness of a grand old farm and of the chieftain’s power in early medieval times.
The farm Jåstad, situated a few kilometres north of Agatunet, must have been a grand farm in medieval times. Torolf on Jåstad is mentioned as arbitration moderator in 1293, and in the vaulted corridor at Lyse Kloster Sigurd, farmer at Jåstad, and his wife Sigrid – the king’s kinswoman - are buried.
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.