Treasures and relics

Treasures have been unearthed, many in Jæren, that date back to the great Germanic migrations. Remnants of houses and farms also pepper the landscape. In the 5th century, one father in Rogaland wrote: Haduleik rests here. I, Hagustad, buried my son. We do not know the story, but the father has etched his sorrow in stone.

There are many such monuments in Rogaland, and the runes on some are still visible. During pagan times, the runes were magic symbols as well as letters. Gradually, they lost their association with magic. We have examples of runes that were used simply to spread gossip. In Bergen one inscription reads: Ingebjørg made love to me when I was in Stavanger.

The man who wrote about Ingebjørg must have travelled through Karmsund on his way from Stavanger to Bergen. At the narrowest point of the sound is Avaldsnes, the home of Norway’s first king. Sagas tell us that, near the end of the 9th century, Harald Fairhair and his fleet sailed into Hafrsfjord near Stavanger. The enemy was waiting – "Men of the East", aided by warriors from the Norse realm in Dublin. Harald triumphed in battle and established his sovereignty over the whole of Norway.

Harald Fairhair died an old man, at Avaldsnes, and was buried near Karmsund. In 1872, a national monument was raised in Haugesund to commemorate the millennium of the unification of Norway. There is a stone cross situated near this monument. According to legend, it was made in memory of Eirik Bloodaxe. One of the largest stone crosses known still has runes spelling out the name of Erling Skjalgsson from Sola. Many such crosses were erected in Rogaland during the earliest days of Christianity. They are often found along shipping routes. Perhaps to let travellers know they were sailing along Christian land?

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