Fjord Norway has a rich historical heritage and many visible traces of the Vikings, who ruled the country for an era between AD 800 to 1066.
Historically, the Viking era began with the attack on Lindisfarne monastery in AD 793, and ended with the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, when the English army successfully repelled the Viking invaders led by King Harald Hardråde.
The Vikings' seaworthiness and impulsiveness led to the development of new areas along the Norwegian coast, westward to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland, Orkney, Scotland, Ireland and Greenland. The Norwegian Vikings also discovered Vinland, present-day America, long before Columbus.
Before the first millennium, iron tools were introduced into agriculture and there was a shortage of land to cultivate. During the same period, the King's power increased and he demanded large taxes from the population. Many emigrated to seek fortune and freedom, and pillaging became an alternative source of income.
Effective sailing ships and weapons made the Vikings a feared people amongst contemporary Christian Europeans. However, the image of the Vikings as bloodthirsty, savage plunderers do not tell us the whole story. The Vikings were also involved in a wealthy merchant trade, not only in Europe but also including the Byzantine Empire and the Baghdad Caliphate.
The Viking community was a kindred way of living, where most issues were solved within and between the families. The Sagas are prose histories mostly describing events that took place. These stories are filled with accounts of blood revenge (an eye for an eye) and families defending their own kin.
Avaldsnes just outside of Haugesund is Norway's oldest royal residence, and was selected as the millennium residency of the county Rogaland. King Harald Fairhair built his main house here around the year AD 870, and Avaldsnes was a royal residence until approximately 1450.
According to the Icelandic recorder of Sagas, Snorre, Olav Tryggvason docked at Moster in AD 995, following his voyage across the North Sea from England, in order to become king of Norway. He celebrated mass here and founded a Church, and King Olav the Holy and his bishops held Christian Court Law which superseded the Norse Laws in the year 1024.