The farmhouses at holding No. 15 at Hopland are built together to form a long, continuous building, with dwelling house, hayshed and cowshed built in one row. There have been many such joined structures in the coastal communities, but today there are few remaining. If we travel to the other side of the North Sea, to the Faeroes, Shetland and the Orkney Islands, we find corresponding features in the older building traditions. We find ourselves in a large North Atlantic cultural area.
If you take the sea route north you have several options. The various routes have been dealt with in history, and through the Middle Ages the traffic increased as well as the trading with Nordland in fish and herring, feather and down. One of the central routes passes through Kjelstraumen, in the sound between Ulvøy and Bakkøy. This has been a place for a guesthouse since 1610, with Royal Letter of Privilege, part of the large network of trading post and guesthouse locations along the coast.
Kræmmerholmen is one of the old privileged trading posts. From the 1600s all trading in West Norway took place in Bergen, and the farmers were obliged to travel into town in order to sell their produce and buy what they needed. In Bergen City Privilege of 1702 the merchants in the city were allowed to establish “Trading posts in the countryside”. The owner had to have residency in Bergen and the trading post was to be run by an assistant. In this way the city retained financial control of those living in the districts, and not least with buying and selling of fish.
The hostelry place in Bruknappen is situated north in Radsundet, just south of Festo, by a sheltered idyllic bay, close to the main lane. Sloops both from Sognefjorden and Nordland had their fixed stops at “the blacksmith in Bruknappen”; on their way to Bergen, fully loaded with wood and hazel hoops, barrels and chests, or on their way home with town merchandise.
Isdal one of the few clustered settlements left in the Hordaland communities, after the extensive changes taking place around the turn of the former century, which broke up the shared farms and the old intermixture of strips. The old, low houses are situated in a compact enclosure, which is very noticeable in the landscape when you travel the main road north from Knarrvik.
On a large gravel terrace in Matredalen (the Matre valley), a couple of kilometres from the coastal settlement Matre, lies Storseterhilleren, at the end of a large stone block that came rushing down from the mountain. The Matre river runs just over 100 metres to the east of the cave.
If you come by sea to Bergen and come up the Herdle Fjord, the yellow ochre marine shed at Holmeknappen is a well known landmark to starboard as you come close to the little shore settlement. In olden days Holmenknappen served important functions as a centre for a wide hinterland of the surrounding farms, warehouse, landing point, country store and later a steamer quay, a hotel (1896) and a dairy (1909). But today Holmeknappen is no longer a focal point. Transport and commercial routes have changed the old pattern
In one of the frame-built haysheds at Nottveit, at holding No. 3, we discover that several of the staves have a medieval look, with large dimensions and carefully rounded edges. According to tradition, it was the farms Nottveit and Mostraumen that supplied the timber for the stave church at Mo, and it is not unlikely that these farms received the old timber in return when the new church was erected there in 1593.
Tthe Otterstad farms lie in the innermost part of Mofjorden, on the northwest side of the river. The row of stave-built boatsheds that belong to the farm were probably constructed a little after the middle of the 1800s. Both here and on the Mo side, the boatsheds were important storage places at the seashore; wood and other farm products intended for the town; corn and merchandise in return.
In the sunny, steep fjord landscape along Sørfjorden on the east side of Osterøy is the farm Havrå. The small “hamlet” is one of the few undisturbed farming communities that gives us the impression of the large communal yards in West Norway in the 1700s, with houses built close together and strips of arable land.