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Søla

Søla is shaped like a brimmed hat and is a notable landmark about 1.2 nautical miles (1.75 km) west of Vega. This roughly 2 x 2 square kilometre island consists almost entirely of a rugged peak rising to 432 metres. Apart from Vega itself, it is the only mountainous island in the archipelago.

Settlement
Neolithic (Late Stone Age) finds have been made on Søla. More recently, it was probably inhabited before the Black Death (1350). House foundations at Harphaugen in the south of the island suggest that the first farm stood there. After the Black Death, the island remained uninhabited until the 1500s when a farm was cleared at the head of the sheltered, lush inlet in the northwest of the island. The Søla families lived there for many generations. There were two dwellings on Søla before 1900. After the turn of the century, two families lived in the larger house, which still stands. The children went to school at Valla on Vega after 1900. The last residents moved from Søla in 1970 and the island is now used for holidays. The barn has been demolished, but the house has been rehabilitated and the owners have built five cabins.

Livelihood
Søla had about 10 acres of arable land, as well as good rough grazing. The livestock have always been larger here than was usual on the other islands. The farm had six to eight cows and calves, a horse, a bull and pigs. Hens were also kept and their eggs were sold on Vega. As many as 200-300 40 kg crates of potatoes were also produced each year, and these were sold on the other islands.

Fishing took place around the island and at Lofoten in the fishing seasons. Fishermen from Vega lodged in the house or in a shack built by fishermen from Viksås on Vega. The strait (Sølasundet) has always been a good place to fish herring. The island is an old sealing site. Ring-shaped stone walls can still be seen on Søla and nearby Sulingen, and the hunters lay hidden behind these watching for seals and otters. There are similar stone walls on Vega itself, and these were used when white-tailed eagles were being trapped.

Conservation values
Søla is part of the Hysvær-Søla Protected Landscape Area. This is a large, very varied area composed of two large groups of islands, Hysvær and Søla. Hysvær consists of a number of flat, grassy islands whereas Søla, reaching 432 a.s.l., is the complete opposite. They also contrast greatly with respect to bedrock. Whereas Hysvær largely consists of calcareous mica schist which supports rich vegetation, Søla is composed of granite and has much poorer vegetation.

Hysvær and Søla are two of the areas in the Vega Archipelago that have had the longest continuity of grazing and haymaking, and farming still takes place there. Compared with other groups of islands, the landscape is therefore much less dominated by plants like meadowsweet, which typify areas that have become overgrown

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