In this chapter, Avaldsnes and the land along the Karmsund Strait are considered in a west-Scandinavian context. Was the manor one of a kind? Why did aristocrats reside there, and what may be inferred about their activities? Topographic, archaeologic, and Old Norse literary evidence is analysed to discuss these questions. In western Scandinavia, Iron Age settlement is found in the rather small patches of rich soil, primarily along the sea, especially where valleys meet the fjord. Only two larger areas of continuous fertile soil exist: Jæren and Trøndelag. However, through the whole 1st millennium AD, settlement also thrived in less fertile areas in highland valleys and in islands on the outer coasts. Unsurprisingly, 33 aristocratic manors are found in the lush inland regions between Rogaland and Møre; less obvious is the existence of 13 Iron Age manors on the outer coast. The latter are found in two zones, one in Rogaland and Hordaland, the other in Møre and Romsdal. Lying in the former zone, Avaldsnes is the site with the richest finds, most numerous monumental mounds, and the longest continuity. The mountainous landscape presents travellers, especially those with cargo, with few alternatives to sailing along the coast by the sea route known as the Norðvegr, which is protected from the open ocean by thousands of islands and skerries. The need to secure traffic along this sea route, vital to travellers from the whole of western Scandinavia, is identified as the reason why aristocrats settled on the islands. Emerging in the 3rd century AD, the martial character of these island communities is testified in literary evidence regarding the Viking Age. Indeed, Haraldr hárfagri appears to have emerged from this sea-king milieu, probably in Rogaland and Hordaland.