Following the introduction of Christianity and the amalgamation of the minor kingdoms, the Church and estate owners gained great power and the old class of freeholder farmers disappeared.
A large growth in population and the desire for the greatest
possible return from their properties led to many small farms being cleared in highly marginal areas. At the same time, the climate improved and better tools became available. The fjord farms were established during this period, on land that had formerly been used by other farms for haymaking and grazing. Likewise, many new farms were cleared in the uplands. Remains of longhouses at Herdalsseter in the Geirangerfjord area may suggest that farming took place here in this period.
he Black Death hit these areas in the winter of 1349-50 and probably more than half the population perished. The depletion in the population seems to have been greatest in inland districts. A deterioration in the climate also took place from the 1300s, and this may help to explain why the effects of the pest lasted as long as they did. With the Black Death, peripheral farms were abandoned, but the original, centrally located farms continued to be worked.
The most outlying transhumance farms also ceased to be used, and some ordinary farms became transhumance farms, or their land was just used for grazing or harvesting of fodder.
Following a long period with a reduced population owing to the Black Death, a strong growth in population took place in the late-16th century.
Return to abandoned farms
Herdal, Lundaneset and Knivsflå are among the farms in Geirangerfjord mentioned in a document from 1603, and many of the abandoned farms were cleared again in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, the land on many of the former farms continued to be used by larger farms just for grazing and haymaking.
The population grew until the mid-19th century, when people began moving to towns in Norway and the great
migration to America started.