Utstein Monastary is mentioned in historical records going back to the 9th century, when it was cited as King Harald Fairhair´s garrison after the Battle of Hafrsfjord where Norway was unified under one monarch.
Construction of the Monastary started in about 1260, although some parts may be older and may date from earlier royal farm on the site. The Church is unique in Norway with its tower situated centrally between chancel and nave.
The Augustinian monks lived a pious life here. Discipline was strict, with regular prayers, scripture readings, and services. The monastry is believed to have housed 12 monks, but with a significant number of servants who looked after the farm, did the building work, and prepared the food. The Monastry owned considerable land and was wealthy enough to support 250 people year-round.
After the Reformation the Monastry was not in use for long periods and fell into disrepair. When Christopher Garmann moved here in 1750 the buildings were refurbished, though sometimes in a very different form. The Monastry was used as a farmhouse for the surroundings fields until the early 1930s.
Restoration of the chancel and tower of the church dates from about 1900, while the rest of the Monastry was renovated in the 1950s - 60s. Now the Monastry is run as a museum and course and conference centre, and is offered for private functions and as a concert venue. Much of the Monastry is open to the public during museum hours.