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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 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.
The old “recorder residence” at Helleland has been both residence for the district recorder and officer’s residence. The main building, which came under protection in 1924, was built in 1764 by the curate Christian Heiberg. When he was appointed parish priest in Jølster, he sold the farm to the state employee Geelmuyden, who resold the farm to Hans De Knagenhielm in 1774. He was the head of “Søndre Hardangerske kompani” (a local army division).
Hesthamar, some kilometres north of Utne, is one of the oldest residences for a district recorder in the country. In 1637, barely 50 years after the office of the district recorder was established in 1591, the local people bought this residence from the bailiff Lauritz Johnsen on Torsnes. From 1659 the district recorders lived here, intermittently, up to 1790. This is when Helleland at Lofthus became a “recorder” farm.
The farm Huse is situated on a broad terrace in the valley above the church and the commons ground in Kinsarvik. Huse is one of the largest farms in Kinsarvik. The house from the Middle Ages, still standing at Huse today, probably from the middle of 1200, is joined on to a house in the Swiss style from around 1890. This house, with a smoke-vent in the roof, bears witness of a grand old farm and of the chieftain’s power in early medieval times.
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.