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Marine activities expanded greatly throughout the 19th century, and provided a livelihood for many people. Fishing and shipping were probably the subsidiary activities which had greatest economic significance throughout the century. Marine activities brought, literally speaking, wind into the sails of many rural districts in Hordaland during that period.
Hordaland has been through several "Stone Ages". The first was in the real Stone Age, with Bømlo as its centre. Hard stone as tools and weapons was the normal occupation for Bømlo folk. The next started a ways into the 1800s. Building stone and cobblestones in the street became popular in cities throughout the country. The last stone age is just about twenty years old - after a long period of dominance by asphalt and cement, natural stone has again become desirable in streets and squares, in roads and as building facades.
Much is hidden from us, but we know some of the main features in the history behind the different rock types and minerals that surround us. The Hordaland we experience today is the result of an exciting and sometimes dramatic geological history over many hundreds of millions of years - a result that is important for Hordaland: The bedrock influences the soil types and lays down the cultural foundation, by determining the possibilities for mining, quarrying slate, building stone and gravel for roads, and, not least, where we find mountains, valleys and fjords.
The West Coast of Norway, with its deep fjords that carve far into the high mountains, is one of the most characteristic and - many would say - beautiful landscapes in Europe. It is not without reason that tourists come from around the world each year to see the fjords of Norway.
The saga regarding the settlement of Hordaland started off about 10,000 years ago. Most of this saga has been recorded in writing, not on paper, but on stone and on the earth in the forest and the marshes.
The Caledonian mountain chain is an example of how plate movements and continental drift can cause collisions and the upheaval of huge mountain chains. After the horizontal compressional forces ceased, the forces of gravity, wind and water took over and started the process of eroding away the mountain chain. But, nearer to our time the land rose up again to a plateau landscape in the east which slanted down toward the ocean in the west!
The year 1849 was the breakthrough year for the National Romantic movement in Norway. It was in that year that Ole Bull, the renowned fiddler brought the Millerboy from Telemark to the concert hall in the capital.
When Professor Emeritus Knut Fægri (1909-2001) was asked to write the book's chapter about the natural science pioneers of Hordaland, he answered unequivocally, "yes". It was one of the last things he wrote before he died, at the age of 92. In typical Fægri language he presents some of the scholars who, in the time before the University of Bergen was founded, led the way in studying the natural science of The West Country.