Alrekstad (later Årstad) is the birthplace of Bergen. The estate was an estate for Harald Hårfagre and several of his descendants: Eirik Blodøks, Håkon den gode og Olav Tryggvason. These first kings moved with their courts and guardsmen from estate to estate. From these estates the king ruled the country.
When bishop J.Neumann was on a visitation in Hardanger in 1825 he also visited Torsnes, the seat of the Galtung family. They were then in the process of pulling down the old dwelling house on the farm. As the committed observer of ancient monuments and antiquarian buildings that he was, bishop Neumann has provided us with interesting details:
At the bottom of the Osa fjord there is a cultural landscape marked by great contrasts; the wide terraces and the river delta at the fjord contrast with the steep hillsides in the background, where Norddalen leads up to the mountain. There are two farms here. Osa and Sævartveit – the farm at the river mouth and the hollow by the sea.
The heath landscape on outer Lygra, Utluro and Lurekalven will in future become part of a landscape protection area, to be maintained through traditional activities with year-round outdoor sheep, grazing and burning. The West Norwegian heath country belongs to a large North Atlantic coastal landscape stretching from the Bay of Biscay to the Lofoten islands.
Sæheim (Seim) at Lygrefjord is mentioned as one of the royal farms of Harald Hårfagre. Several of the first Norwegian national kings had their seat here, and the farm became Crown Property up to the 1400s. According to the sagas, Håkon den gode is buried on the farm.
Håøy lies centrally in one of the main shipping lanes going into Bergen --- with Håyøsund on the south side facing Meland, and Hagelsundet facing Lindåslandet. Names like Nordfarskista and Nordfarsskorane explain things. The strategic position was important in Viking times and it has been important in our days too. The beacon on Håøy can have been built in the establishment of the coastal administration in Håkon the Good’s time, about 950 AD. The defence structure of which we say remains on Håøy Summit held a critical position during Norwegian neutrality during the First World War. The defence structure was taken down in 1957.
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.
In front of Fitjar Church there is a memorial stone, sculpted by Anne Grimdalen and erected in 1961, for the thousand-year memorial of one of the most dramatic events in Norway’s history, the Battle of Fitjar. This was the place where Norway’s king, Håkon the Good, suffered his fatal injury in the fight with Eirik’s sons, probably in the year 961.
Fyksesundet and Botnagrenda present a fine experience of the landscape and cultural history; a geographically isolated local settlement with extensive cultural contact with the outside world.