Below a south facing, steep rock at Årsand, there is one of the strangest ancient relics in the whole of Hordaland. The jutting rock wall forms a shallow flagstone – Geithilderen. Parts of the rock wall are covered by a light lime crust and on the crust figures have been painted in golden and rusty red colours.
Everyone knows the famous painting by Tidemand & Gude “Brudeferden i Hardanger” (The Wedding Party in Hardanger) one of the great icons in the National Gallery. Some have, in a humorous lack of respect for this masterpiece linked the concept of “bride’s passage” to another pictorial presentation in Hardanger. This is found on the farm Bakko in Herand, carved in the rock by an unknown artist around 3,000 years ago.
For generations the land-seine was the most important tool for catching herring and mackerel, and therefore a suitable casting bay was worth its weight in gold. Goltasundet (the Golta sound) on Golta was such a place. Here the herring often drifted in and fantastic casts might be made here.
Kval i våg! Når det ropet gjekk, var det berre å få ut den kraftige kvalnota til å stengja vågen med, og så kunne veidinga ta til. I uminnelege tider har det vore drive kvalveiding i Skogsvågen.
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.
From times immemorial salmon and trout have been caught with various tools in the fjord and the streams here. Finds in the Stone Age settlements at Skipshelleren indicate that salmon was probably caught by angling. Nets, fish pots and traps have been used in the rivers right up to our times. In the fjords the use of nets was developed into a salmon seine around 1500, and later into what today is known as fixed seine.
In the sea west of Bømlo lies Espevær, half an hour’s rowing trip across the sound from Vespestadvågen. This is a well-run and well-maintained local community, established on the back of the rich herring fisheries in the 1850s. It is fishermen, skippers and the tradesmen who have made their mark on the culture in Espevær, with their contacts to the south towards Haugesund and across the North Sea to the British Isles.