Karmøy - History


There are several finds from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. Large burial mounds, stone monuments, and many other ancient monuments are found on the island. Karmøy is the site of the Storhaug, Grønhaug and Flagghaugen burial mounds. Karmøy was known for sailing in the old times. The eddic poem Grímnismál says that Thor, the weather god, wades the straits at Karmsund every morning on his way to Yggdrasil, the tree of life. The ocean outside Karmøy is dangerous, filled with underwater currents and rocks. Thus the ships were forced into the narrow Karmsund. Chieftains and kings controlled the ships passing up and down the coast and demanded taxes.

The Karmsund strait was also the source of the name of the kingdom, at the time when the first king of the unified Norway, Harald Fairhair, lived on Karmøy. (See History of Norway.)

Avaldsnes is located on the northeastern coast of the island. King Augvald who has given his name to this ancient site is mentioned in the Old Norse sagas as having his home here. Later the residence of Harald Fairhair and other kings are mentioned. There is also a medieval church, St. Olav's church of Avaldsnes, located on this coast.

Visnes in the northwest was once the site of an important copper mine. This mine was source of the copper used for the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

In the 18th century, two girls from Uyea in Shetland rowed to Haaf Gruney to milk some of the cows grazing there. Unfortunately, their return was marred by a strong storm, and eventually they found their tiny boat blown to Karmøy. The Uyea girls ended up marrying Karmøy men, and their descendants still live there. The Dyrland family of Karmoy are believed to be the family that the two girls married into after they arrived on Karmoy. Sivert Dyrland was a member of the Norwegian government in the early 20th century.

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