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.
Even though we know of several hundred burial places from the Stone Age in Hordaland, we do not often hit on the Stone Age Man himself. But there are a few.
At Halnefjorden, a few hundred metres east of Halne mountain lodge, lie the remains of two stone sheds – Halnelægeret. Some generations ago the cattle drovers stopped here in the summer; they were the cowboys of their time. But Halnelægeret already had a long history before the cattle drovers came.
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.
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.
Valestrand became a centre for the tanning industry in Osterøy; one of the old crafts that has developed into a local industry with many places of work. From the 1870s ever more ventures were started. Many of the large sea houses we see today around the bay have been places for tanning and leather enterprises.
At the southern end of the bridge between Radøy and Fosnøy archaeologists found an unusual Stone Age settlement. There was a thick “cultural layer” here with the remains of the waste dumps of a hunting people. The place was called Kotedalen. Here they came, one group after the other, and settled for some weeks, some months, or maybe years before they went on, leaving the settlement deserted. Time after time it happened. At least 16 settlement phases have been identified, stretching over 5,500 years.
The first church at Grindheim was a stave church with a free-standing steeple. The church was first mentioned in 1326, but was probably built long before this time.