The Cultural Heritage



The World Heritage Park has a rich and varied cultural heritage. How have the people used their surroundings throughout times? What traces can we find of this usage today? The cultural heritage of the area can bring an understanding of how human activities have left their mark on the landscape we see today. The landscape in the area is varied, ranging from high to low mountains, valleys and fjord villages. The area has been populated since the Stone Age, with its people made to adapt to whatever the surroundings have thrown at them. In return, the human activities have made an impact on the landscape, both in the form of industrial and other construction, as well as in the form of vegetation and the shaping of the landscape from local industry and the cultural landscape.

The social change in the farming community has most likely had the biggest impact on the landscape. As a result of farming, where we would usually find nothing but forests we find crops, hay fields, pastures, pollard trees, farmyards, tenant farms and seasonal farms. All of these make up the hamlets and farms that we find along the fjord and at the bottom of the valleys

The outlying fields and the mountains were, and still are a major resource for local people. Collecting wood, gathering winter fodder, the utilisation of bog iron and hunting were big parts of a farm’s income. These days hunting and the use of the forest and mountains are mainly linked to leisure activities and recreation. Some of the old roads connected to previous utilisation of the outlying areas are now important hiking trails.

Connections AND TRADE

The central areas have grown from connections between regions as well as trade and these centres have amongst other things been the seats of nobility and home to powerful families who have put their mark on local history. These people are known through old written sources, but also through the mark they left on the landscape in the form of churches, great farms and the central areas. Some of the churches in the area were built in the Middle Ages, some from stone and others are stave churches (a church built of wood, with a framework based around vertical posts). Only 28 stave churches remain standing in Norway today, three of which are located in the World Heritage Park (Undredal in the municipality of Aurland, Borgund in the municipality of Lærdal, and Hopperstad in the municipality of Vik). 

FEATURES that are characteristic of the cultural history of the area:

  • Hunting in the mountains, starting with the hunting community during the Stone Age and still ongoing today
  • Travel via the fjords
  • Boatbuilding
  • Connections and travel in the mountain areas between east and west
  • The farming community from the Stone Age until today
  • Clusters of farmhouses
  • Hill farms found high up in the terrain
  • The development from class distinctions to an egalitarian society 
  • The production of shoes
  • Stave churches

visit the Vibrant cultural heritage sites in the area:

  • "Aurlandskoen" (the Aurland Shoe factory) – Économusée
  • Producers of goat cheese in Undredal
  • “Gamalost” (literally old cheese) production in Vik
  • "Kystled Nærøyfjorden" experiences along the fjord
  • The cheese production at the Rallarosa seasonal farm in the valley of Flåmsdalen
  • The seasonal farm of Skjerdal welcomes visitors in the municipality of Aurland

Hamlets, farms, Tenant Farms and Seasonal farms you have to visit:

  • The Styvi farm and farming museum
  • The sea-crofters’ hamlet at Bakka in the Nærøyfjord
  • The cluster farmhouses of Ottersnes
  • The hill farms of Stigen and Nedbergo
  • The Frønningen estate
  • The sesonal farm Engi in Fresvik
  • The Sivle farm
  • The tenant farm of Hausen in Lærdal
  • The disused farms of Sinjarheim and its tenant farm Almen in the valley of Aurlandsdalen
  • The tenant farm of Nåli by the hamlet of Stalheim
  • The summer farm of Langhuso in Undredal

Places of cultural importance in regards to travel in the area:

  • The old royal postal road from Bleiklindi to Styvi in the Nærøyfjord
  • The mountain road of Stalheimskleiva
  • The Historic Route (historiske rute) in Lærdal
  • The collection of old buildings found beside Stalheim hotel
  • The old path to the mountain farms of Bakka called Rimstigen
  • The Flåm Railway Line
  • The road to the valley of Jordalen
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