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Down by the fjord at Svåsand, close to the main highway, there is a long row of boathouses, one of the well-preserved, older boathouse locations along the Hardanger fjord. It is the farms at Svåsand that have their boathouses here, four main farms with origins far back in time.
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:
The farm Vik in Jondal has been one of the earliest settled farms in Jondal; a good and fertile farm east of the river. Legends hold that mighty men have lived in Vik, and it is easy to imagine that the farm may have been a chieftain’s seat for some time.
The old guesthouse location in Brattholmen on the east side of Litlesotra, was probably established in the first half of the 1700s. A list from 1748 mentions that the place “for some years has been inhabited by an Enrolled Sailor by the name of Peder Michelsen”. As was the case for most other military hosts, he was exempt from paying income tax.
Landro has been the largest estate on Sotra, including 15 farms with reasonable conditions for agriculture. Their boathouses have had an excellent harbour in Landrovågen. Landro thus has been a good basis for the combination of agriculture and fishing.
Up to 1842 it was necessary to have a royal letter of privilege in order to carry out trade. According to the law only city dwellers were allowed to obtain such a privilege, and in Hordaland it was thus the citizens of Bergen who owned and ran the trading centres. In 1842, following a liberalisation of the trading legislation, the privilege arrangement was abandoned and anyone could apply to the municipal council for permission to carry out trading activity. Landøy is one of the places that were established in this period.
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.
Furthest north in the island community Rongevær, at the entrance to Fensfjorden, lies Krossøy. Belonging to the farm are the islands of Krossøy, Husøy, Kårøy, Lyngkjerringa, Søre Kjerringa, Rotøy and Kuhovet. All of them have been inhabited. On Krossøy itself today there are four holdings. The marine use environment here is one of the best preserved along the West Norwegian coast.
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.