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On the farm of Arnatveit, high up on the slope above the highway, an old smokehouse remains standing in the courtyard of the main farm property, in the place of the old common courtyard. Today this farm lies at the outskirts of a large housing estate. Most of the farmland of the other farm properties has been sold to benefit the city’s need of sites for the new community of Arna.
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.
Farming in Austevoll has nearly all been in combination with fishing as the main industry. The farms in the district are therefore small, even in a west Norwegian context.
The post house at Øpstad stands out in the landscape. An ochre yellow house with a loft and a white-painted house in Swiss style with ochre edgings, bears witness to a well preserved house from the 1800s, nearest neighbour to the beautiful old vicarage. In the Øpstad hamlet there was a post office for more than a hundred years, until the 1970s. Today it is possible to walk the old post road across the mountain to Strandvik, as part of “Den Stavangerske Postvei” (The post road to Stavanger).
In the steep hillside in Hjølmodalen, a small side valley from Øvre Eidfjord (Upper Eidfjord), which has been a key entrance to the Hardanger Plateau, the hamlet of old farmhouses still lie clustered together. The yard is empty today, some of the houses are used in the summer, but the grass grows round all the corners.
Måbø is the uppermost farm in Måbødalen. This narrow and steep mountain valley has been one of the routes from the fjord communities up to the mountain plateau from times immemorial. We are not certain of the meaning of the name Måbø. Perhaps it has its origin in an Old Norse male name Mávi, from the name for seagull, már. The last syllable “bø” means farm. Today Måbø gives us a compact close-up of the subsistence economy: the small farm with the clearance piles, stone walls and a lane that guided the animals into the yard, at the foot of the great mountain expanse.
The farm Frøystein by the Ulvik fjord is commonly called Fryste. In 1614 the name was written Frøstemb – an obvious Danish influence – and the form Frøsten was used up until the land register in 1886 and 1907. It is probable that the name of the farm originally was Frystvin; a vin-name. Thus it has no connection with neither Frøy (Norse fertility god) nor stein (stone).
In the years between the wars a major registration of houses and house costumes, house construction methods, fireplaces and forms of housing clusters was started in West Norway – an ambitious mapping of everything that came under the name “Registration of Culture and Geography in West Norway”. One of the places of which material was gathered in 1938 was an old multi-room house at Golta; new and interesting material for the researchers from the Historical Museum, but well known within the local building tradition through several generations.
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.
Isdal one of the few clustered settlements left in the Hordaland communities, after the extensive changes taking place around the turn of the former century, which broke up the shared farms and the old intermixture of strips. The old, low houses are situated in a compact enclosure, which is very noticeable in the landscape when you travel the main road north from Knarrvik.