Nestled beneath a colossal rock overhang in the picturesque Jøssingfjord of Norway, Helleren farm stands as a remarkable testament to human ingenuity and a timeless connection between people and their environment.
An old farm built under the rock. Photo: Andreas Winter
If you are looking for a unique and fascinating cultural heritage site in Norway, you might want to visit Helleren farm in Jøssingfjord, where you can see two traditional houses from the 1800s built under a massive rock shelter. These houses have been preserved for centuries thanks to the natural protection of the rock, which forms a roof over them.
Helleren farm is located in Sokndal municipality, along the North Sea Route between Egersund and Flekkefjord. You can spot the houses from the road, as they stand out in their white and red colors against the grey tones of the rock and the fjord. The rock shelter, known as Helleren or Hedlaren, is 60 meters long and 10 meters deep, and has been used by people for thousands of years. The oldest traces of human activity under Helleren date back to the Stone Age, when hunters and fishermen used it as a temporary shelter.
Humans have used the rock shelter since the Stone Age. Photo: Spectacular Norway
The two houses that you can see today were built in the 1800s, but they may have older parts that date back to the 1500s. The houses are typical examples of Norwegian rural architecture, with wooden walls, windows, doors and chimneys. However, they do not have proper roofs (basically just planks in a row), as they are covered by the rock shelter. This is why they have survived for so long, as they have been protected from rain, snow and wind.
The houses were inhabited until the 1920s, when they were abandoned due to lack of modern facilities. The last residents were two sisters who lived there without electricity or running water.
The houses were inhabited until the 1920s and now serve as a museum. Photo: GAD
Helleren farm is now owned and managed by Dalane Folkemuseum, which is responsible for its conservation and maintenance. The houses are open to the public, and you can enter them and see how people lived there in the past. You can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of Jøssingfjord, which is surrounded by steep mountain walls and ends in a large stone scree.
Jøssingfjord is also known for its historical significance, as it was the site of the Altmark affair in 1940, when British forces freed prisoners from a German tanker during World War II. This event was used by Germany as an excuse to invade Norway.
If you want to visit Helleren farm, you can park your car on the other side of the river and walk for five minutes to reach the houses. During summer season, there is also a toilet and a kiosk with simple refreshments nearby. However, you should be careful and respectful when visiting Helleren farm, as it is a fragile and valuable cultural heritage site that belongs to everyone.
Helleren farm in Norway offers a glimpse into the past and shows how people adapted to their environment and used natural resources to create their homes. It also tells a story about our history and identity, and how we can preserve it for future generations.