Sunnfjord and Nordfjord lie in Sogn and Fjordane county. The county is threaded with fjords and extends from the numerous coastal islands in the west, to Jotunheimen, the mountain plateau in the east. The climate and agricultural conditions vary greatly within the county. The sea was the main means of transportation and communication and Bergen was the most important town for the people of Fjordane. There was also traffic in the valleys and over the mountains on foot or horseback. The postal route between Bergen and Trondheim opened in 1785 and was improved around 1850. At the same time local steamboat routes were established to and from Bergen.  

Gloppen in Nordfjord, ca 1890. Photo: Axel Lindahl.Most people supported themselves through agriculture, animal husbandry, lumbering, hunting, trapping and fishing. Fishing played a larger role nearer the coast. The best land in this steep landscape was saved for cultivation. Buildings were clustered together on infertile pieces of land. Oats were grown in the western part of the county and barley in the eastern and higher regions. Fruit and berries were traditional crops in Nordfjord.

The innhus were placed together as were the uthus. The terrain determined how the innhus and the uthus were arranged in relation to each other. Buildings were for the most part made of wood. Along the blustery coast trees were scarce and many buildings were made of stone, especially barns. Houses had the common three room plan until the mid-1800s. Iron stoves replaced the røykovn after 1850 and this resulted in more houses with an upper story.

The bu, or storehouse, stood next to the house. Some farms had a loft and some had a stabbur. The eldhus was part of every farm. It often had an extra room used for preparing milk products and could be used as a summer dwelling. The uthus, barns and sheds, were grouped together. The cow barn was a long, low building with the gable ends following the slope of the hillside. There was often a hearth for warming water and fodder for the animals. Old hay barns were built in stave construction and had a raised threshing floor with a storeroom on either side. The smithy and drying kiln stood at a distance from the farmyard

The farmyard from Fjordane at the Folk Museum is incomplete. Two dwelling houses, a hay barn and a stable only suggest a farmyard. There is one building from Nordfjord.  

House from Årheim in Stryn, Nordfjord, ca. 1800

This house is built of flat hewn logs and has the typical three room plan with an antechamber, a main room and a small chamber. The exterior wall in the antechamber is made in stave construction with vertical paneling. A lean-to is built onto the front facade using stave construction and horizontal paneling. The røykovn has its customary place in the corner nearest the chamber. Smoke escaped through the ljore, or smoke vent in the roof.  

Hay Barn and Stable from Sandnes in Jølster, Sunnfjord, 1700s

The hay barn is built in stave construction. The gable walls are made of vertical panel and the side walls are timber frame with horizontal panel. On either side of the threshing floor is a storeroom for hay and grain. These rooms have earthen floors. A stable in log construction is built onto a side wall, as was customary in Jølster.  

House and Guest House from Ytre Sæle in Bygstad, Gaular in Sunnfjord, ca. 1650-1700             

The guest house has two rooms and an enclosed gallery along the front facade. The first room is a timber frame bu used for storing food. The stairs in the bu lead up to a loft. The second room, the guest room, is made of logs and is adorned with renaissance decoration. The bed is an exquisite example of renaissance carpentry. The guest room was also used for storing items not used everyday. Church clothes and bedding were kept in chests, and jewelry and other fancy things were stored in wooden boxes and on shelves. Because of its special status, this building or room was often the first on the farm to have windows. The year 1684 is painted on two window panes and is possibly the year the house was built. To the left of the guest house is the main house which is probably younger. The antechamber opens into the gallery along the guest house. The main room is furnished in the customary way, with fixed benches, a table along the gable wall, shelves and cupboards and the røykovn in the corner next to the chamber. The frame around the ljore is carved and decorated and had glass instead of membrane to cover the opening. Stairs in the chamber lead up to a loft. A narrow passage separates the house from the bu. The floor is lined with flagstones and the passage was used for storage.  

Right: Årheimstua from Stryn, left: Stue from Ytre Sæle, Bygstad, Gaular.