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 thick of night a thundering knock on the door; the man in the house wakes up, jumps out and demands: Who cries? Yes, now you must out, the beacon shines on Høgenut. And in the same breath, every man knew that strife had hit the land.”
Tælavåg has a significant place in the history of the German occupation in WWII. The small community by the sea, where for centuries people had made a living from farming and fishing in harmony with the natural resources, in 1942 became the victim of German reprisals without their equal in Norwegian war history. The collection of war histories in Tælavåg provides us with a close-up of the dramatic events.
Vinappen lies on a low hill to the very west on the island. Here you have an amazing panorama of the sea. Originally the area was grazing land for cattle, but this changed when the Germans occupied the island. Just before WWII there was a small bearing station, used by the Norwegian Coast Artillery in connection with exercises at sea.
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 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.
The coastal settlement of Os begins to take form in the middle of the 1800s. This is when craftsmen and traders begin to settle at the river delta.