Ryvarden lighthouse is situated in the place of the old “Ryvarden”, the boundary limit between Hordaland and Ryfylke from Viking times. The old cairn was removed in 1861. (Svein Nord).
In the Islandic Landnåmabok there is a story that the explorer Floke Vilgjerdsson built a cairn “where meetest Hordaland and Rogaland” and the cairn was named Flokavarði. Tormod Torfæus wrote in Historia Norvegica (1711) that this name was still in use, but that the farmers used “Ryvarden” for the same place.
Ryvarden is situated on the old boundary between Rogaland and Hordaland, a little north of today’s boundary. It is apposite to associate the first syllable with Ryfylke, based on the Old Norse rygir “the rye cultivators”. But this interpretation is uncertain. The name has also been associated with rå “boundary limit”.
In 1849 the Lighthouse Directorate decided that a lighthouse was to be built at Ryvarden. The lighthouse, a small timber hut, 2.6m square, with a lighting appliance in a wall light, was placed closed to the old cairn. From here was a spectacular view out on Sletta and the Bømla fjord. The light was to be lit in the time for the spring herring fishery, from 21 December until 1 March, but soon there were demands from the seafarers for longer lighting periods. From as far back as 1852 the period was extended to 91/2 months, from 15 July until 1 May.
In the 1800s several improvements were implemented here. In 1861 a new and bigger building was erected. The old cairn was removed, to the great indignation of lighthouse director Diriks. In 1935 a six metre high tower was erected and a fog signal was installed at the lighthouse. The last major modernisation of the lighthouse came in 1958, when electricity was installed and a new larger dwelling house was built. A lighthouse keeper and two assistants lived and worked out here. The dwelling house from 1861 was pulled down. Only in the 1970s was a road to the lighthouse constructed from Mølstrevåg, but 14 years later, in 1984, people had to leave Ryvarden, when the lighthouse was automated. Today the Ryvarden Lighthouse is a cultural centre with exhibitions and concerts.