Like most regions along the west coast, Hordaland is characterized by variations in environment and in natural resources. Fishing was dominant along the coast and was supplemented by scanty farming. The fjords provided better conditions for agriculture, but even people in these areas relied on fishing as a supplement to farming. The mountains offered plenty of land for summer grazing. In the middle of Hordaland lies

Øyarhavn, Varaldsøy, Kvinnherad, Hordaland. Boathouse. Photo: Knud Knudsen.Bergen, the traditional center of trade for all of the west coast. New goods and ideas from Europe and the world beyond spread from Bergen to smaller trading centers along the coast.

The cluster tun and the row tun were the common arrangement of farm buildings in Hordaland. Before the land reforms in the 1800s the buildings of many holdings were gathered in one tun. The steep terrain dictated the placement of the buildings, but they usually stood very close together. Wood was the most common building material but stone was also widely used. Stone was also used in seter buildings, the buildings on the summer farms. Many houses had stone embankments on one or more sides as a buffer from the elements. Most buildings had sod roofs until the early 1800s when slate roofs became more common.

The Farm from Hardanger

Four of the buildings here are from Nes farm in Varaldsøy. They are arranged in their original positions. The Folk Museum also has a hay barn from the Nes farm which will be raised. The stable and shed are from other farms in Hordaland. Along the west coast flagstones were often placed between the farm buildings. There are too few buildings here to give an accurate impression of a typical west coast cluster tun.  

House from Nes, Kvam, 1600s

This house was presumably built when the property was divided in 1688. The house originally consisted of the main room with a door in an enclosed gallery on the gable wall. The timber frame antechamber and log chamber were added later. There is a røykovn in its usual place and a ljore, smoke vent, in the ceiling. Before the windows were installed in the 1700s the ljore was the only source of daylight in the house. The decorations on the walls are called kroting and were painted by "kroting wives". These patterns are done in white but colors could also be used.  

Bualoft from Nes, Kvam, 1769

This bualoft has one room on each floor and an enclosed gallery on the gable wall which wraps around the back wall. In the downstairs buo, three beds line the back wall. The servants and hired folk slept here all year even though there was no heat. Tramps or vagrants were also permitted to sleep here. There are also three beds up in the loft. The loft and its furnishings are decorated in renaissance style. This was the farm's guest room and was much finer than the buo below. Painting on the gable wall states that the bualoft was built in 1769 by Peder Pedersen Næse and his wife, Herbor Niels Datter.  

Eldhus from Nes, Kvam, ca. 1600

The eldhus was where washing, baking, brewing and slaughtering was done. This eldhus also had a special oven for drying grain. Neither the open hearth nor the oven has a chimney. It is believed that this building was originally a dwelling house and the oldest building on the farm. When it was turned into an eldhus the floor plan was altered, two logs were added in height and a narrow passage was made along each side wall.  

Stabbur from Nes, Kvam, 1743

This building was a storehouse for food and is placed on posts to keep rodents out. It is made of logs and has an enclosed gallery of stave construction along the front and side wall. The year 1743 is carved above the door and is presumably the year the building was raised. In the back gable wall is a little window with the date 1744 painted in the middle. All the barrels, containers and utensils are from the farm.  

Stable from Øye, Kvam, 1700s

From the Middle Ages barns and sheds were commonly built in timber frame construction along the west coast. This stable is no exception. A small loft was made under the tie beams for storing hay and equipment. The stable was originally larger; before the land reforms it was shared by two holdings. Animal barns were usually insulated with sod roofs, but this one has a slate roof. A pigsty is built onto the stable.  

Shed from Bakka, Hålandsdal, ca. 1800

This timber frame building was used for storing wood. Wood set aside for special uses, like fencing, was stored in the small loft above.


Eldhuset from Nes in Varaldsøy