The etymological meaning of the name is uncertain, but one of the suggestions is: "well-fertilized, oily or fertile soil". Many believe that this does not match the actual conditions. Another interpretation of the name is as “fråde” (froth), taken from the waterfall at Frønningen, which may have held the name Frønningr.
There are only a few archaeological finds that indicate human activity in the area prior to the Middle Ages. One such find is a nice axe made from rock, with a hole drilled for the shaft, named a “skaftaholøks” – a “shaft hole axe”. This dates back to when agriculture became part of the village life, towards the end of the Stone Age or at the beginning of the Bronze Age. The other two finds are an axe and a spear, which most likely indicate that there were activities in the area in the early Iron Age, meaning the period between 600-1050AD. Usually such finds are connected to burial grounds, but no visible signs of graves have been found in the area.
Whilst some of the farms in the village are by the fjord, several of the farms can be found at 4-500meter (1312-1640ft) high plateau called Flata or Åsen, which at one point was called “Lagmannsås”. The oldest settlement in the village can be found here, whilst the farms by the fjord are slightly younger. Written sources indicate that three farms were inhabited during the Middle Ages; Lagmannsås, Lagmannsvik (Buene) and Indre (Inner) Frønningen. Buene was originally a docking
place/boathouse space belonging to the farm of Lagmannsås. The farm was most likely given its name for being owned by a “lagman” a (law)man whose responsibility was interpret the law. According to the tales the lawman was placed here by King Sverre, at the end of the 12th century.. The written sources also tell us that the estate of Frønningen was part of the aristocratic estate of the Kvålsætti clan in Sogn as early as the 13th and 14th century. During the 14th century the estate became a subject of the monarchy. It is fair to estimate that at least parts of the village would have been left deserted after the Black Death (1349-1350).
One of the buildings at Knut Rumohr’s museum has recently been estimated to date from before the Black Death. This building is now being restored, and will most likely be moved to the farm Nyborg where there are several finds from the Viking Age amongst others.