Below a south facing, steep rock at Årsand, there is one of the strangest ancient relics in the whole of Hordaland. The jutting rock wall forms a shallow flagstone – Geithilderen. Parts of the rock wall are covered by a light lime crust and on the crust figures have been painted in golden and rusty red colours.
Close to the tunnel opening at Amalie Skrams vei in Ssandviken, there is a cultural monument of European dimensions; a rope making works that produced rope and fishing tackle for West and North Norway.
Helgaberget – the holy hill – is a little rocky crag which thrusts itself a few metres above the terraced surface of Støle. The surface of the rock is strewn with figures inscribed in the rock and it was, as far as one can judge, a cult centre in the Bronze Ages. The name could indicate that the tradition of holiness can have lasted for almost 3,000 years.
The old hostelry centres were strategically placed with good harbours and anchoring conditions where people travelled. GODØYSUND, or Gøysundet, as it was called, was in the middle of Tysnes Parish, with easy access from the sea, also for the local population. Gøysundet is amongst the oldest hostelries in Sunnhordland.
If you enter the farmyard at Rekve, some kilometres from Bulken, where the road departs to Giljarhus, you no longer meet “the miller”, Knut Hernes, in his old rural mill. But some years ago he would wish you welcome, friendly and hospitable, and show you around his mill, which had been his workplace for a generation. As light-footed as a youth he climbed in steep ladders high up into the waterfall, to let the water down on to the waterwheel.
Stalheim is situated between Stalheimsfossen and Sivlefossen, in a community with the farms Sivle and Brekke. The most likely explanation of the name is “the farm by Stadall”, from “standa” (stand), probably with background in the steep Stalheimskleivi. The farm has for a long time been divided into several units. At Stalheim there has been a transport exchange from the Middle Ages and the farm has been a postal farm since 1647.
At Salthamaren in Vangdalsberget it is thought that salt was burned some time in history, and deep layers of coal in the ground show that fire has been made up here several times. But they were hardly salt-burners, the first people who stopped here. Some of them carved figures into the rock. On top of the rocky outcrop, furthest out on the cliff, a group of Stone Age hunters carved animal figures. More than 1,500 years later Bronze Age farmers drew ship figures at the foot of the rock. Both these works of art - some of the oldest in Hordaland – are still visible, carved in the rock at Salthamaren.
The pioneering tourists in the 1830s-40s brought a momentum in the tourist traffic to the fjord and mountain country Norway. At the time Odda was a hidden Shangri-La at the bottom of Sørfjorden; the farm and the church on the green headland at the fjord. But when the steamship traffic opened the fjord landscape for tourism, in a few years Odda parish in Søndre Bergenhus County became the focal point for travellers in West Norway.
When sergeant Peder Larsen Børsem from Strandebarm was “demobilised” in 1721, following the large Nordic War, he married the Bergen lady Elisabeth Schrøder and settled as innkeeper at Utne with a letter of privilege from the county governor dated 29 October 1722.
At the bottom of Vargavågen on Halhjem lies Grødalshaug, a 30 metres high rocky outcrop between the bay and a moist valley cleft. On the south side of the rock is a steep rock cliff facing the valley, the bog and the stream. On this rock face we find rock carvings from the Bronze Age.