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Halsnøy Monastery is situated in the midst of the lush fjord country in Sunnhordland, on one of the old spits, or “necks”, that has given name to the island. Gently sloping fields lead down to the sea on both sides, in the south towards the Kloster Fjord, to the north towards the sheltered Klostervågen.
The stately Kvinnherad Church with its characteristic profile set out against the mighty Malmangernuten in the background, gives you a rare feeling of being present in a historic landscape as you come around Nes and face the well-kept houses at the Skåla farm. The church at Skåla is one of four “fjordungskirker” (one of four main district churches) and this farm was the centre of this coastal administration district.
Apart from the king’s estate at Holmen, Håkonshallen and the lower floors of the Rosenkrantz tower, the three parish churches in the centre of Bergen are what have been preserved from medieval Bergen: Mariakirken, Korskirken and Olavskirken (the cathedral). The Romanesque base of the tower from Nonneseter monastery church on the spit between the two Lundegård lakes can still be seen in the landscape, while the other medieval buildings now lie in ruins: the town’s oldest town hall and wine cellar at Nikolaikirkealmenning, Lavranskirken and Maria Gildeskåle between Mariakirken and Bryggens Museum and the Katarina hospital on the north side of Dreggsalmenningen.
Numerous finds show that the settlement at Herdla goes back to prehistoric times, and the large estate at Herdla has enjoyed a central place in the nation’s history since High Middle Ages. As Ask, Herdla was part of the country estate Harald Hårfagre took over as he took command of the west of Norway.
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.
Moster is mentioned as a church site already in the time of Olav Tryggvason. According to the sagas the king is supposed to have laid the foundations for the first church at Moster when he came there in 995. That building would have been a stave church - the church standing there today – a stone church with a nave and narrower, straight chancel – was probably founded around 1100. In 1874 a new church was built at Moster. Then the old church was bought by The Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments, which is still the owner.
The stone church at Støle may have been built around 1160 probably as a private chapel for the mighty Stødle clan. It is likely that it was Erling Skakke, the king’s representative and father of king Magnus Erlingsson, who built the church.
The stave church in Røldal was one of the key pilgrimage churches in West Norway. The church was probably built between 1250 and 1350, and in the high Middle Ages Røldal was the most important destination for pilgrims in the country beside the Nidaros cathedral. It was the crucifix that attracted people to midnight mass on midsummer night. That was when it excreted its miraculous sweat.
The old stone church at Eidfjord has an open position on the terrace at Lægreid. In a diploma from 1310 it transpires that Torgeir on Sponheim donated a gift for the erection of the church in Eidfjord. Thus we can assume that the church was under construction at the time. The elements in the style confirm such a dating.