The town is located on the Baltic Uplands in Farther Pomerania at an altitude of about 150 to 180 meters above sea level within the upper region of the river Parsęta. 20 kilometers further south the Drawsko Pomorskie begins. The next larger city is Szczecinek.
The settlement is first mentioned as civitas Barwitz in historical records from 1286, when it was granted by Polish Duke Przemysł II to the Knights Templar, but since it is located in the vicinity of a pre-historical salt road leading to the saltworks of Kołobrzeg, it probably had been founded much earlier.
The town and its neighbouring villages became in 1477 under duke Bogislaw X (1454–1523) part of the Duchy of Pomerania. In the 16th century the town and the surrounding lands were in the possession of four noble families: von Glasenapp, von Wolde, von Zastrow and von Münchow. The oldest town seal is from 1564 and carries the inscription Sigillum civitatis Berwoldie. During the second half of the 16th century, duke John Frederick (1542–1600) granted to the town the right to hold trade fairs three times a year.
In 1626 a blaze destroyed parts of the town, including both the town hall and the church. Because of this, the town was freed from tax paying for the next five years. During the Thirty Years’ War the town was occupied in 1630 by Swedish military of Gustav II Adolph (1534–1632) and suffered heavy damages. During the Seven Years’ WarRussian troops devastated the town’s archives within the town hall, so that all older historical documents went lost.
In the 18th century the town became part of the Kingdom of Prussia, and from 1871 to 1945 it was part of Germany. Since 1766 five fairs per year were allowed to be arranged. In the 18th century, immigrants from France founded a tobacco factory in the town.
Before World War II it had been the site of a county court and of a customs office, and it had a secondary school. The local industry manufactured machinery and produced building materials made from sandstone. There existed both sawmills and grain mills. The town was a centre of agricultural trade, the main trade products being grain, potatoes and cattle. During World War II, the Germans operated a labor camp for French and Belgian prisoners of war from the Stalag II-Bprisoner-of-war camp in the town.