Skaarvangsole – or A Norwegian Love Story

Norwegians! We’re just a bit odd!

In the 1160s, Erling Sigvat, a Ridder or knight of Kviden lived at Valdres on his estate at Melby. A member of a powerful family, he was the most powerful person in his district.

To the north lived Ivar Gjesling, an older man with the ear of the king. He was the most powerful person in Gudbransdalen, besides being the king’s Lansman (judge and ruler) of the district. As a member of the nobility, Ivar had his own army and navy. He and Ridder Erling were often at odds as both laid claim to fishing rights in the Heimsdal district and had a private war going over whose land it was. Anyone who knows Norwegians – knows fish is a pretty big deal. But worse was yet to come.


There was, at this time, a young woman, a great beauty, living at Nordi Skårvangen in Vågå, in the Skaarvang district. She was known as “Skaarvangsole,” or “The Sun of Skaarvangen.” She was renowned in the whole valley and on the other side of the mountains because she was so incomparably beautiful. Ivar Gjesling would ride up to visit her and attempt to woo her. On one visit, he learned that his arch rival, Ridder Erling, was also courting the beautiful Skaarvangsole. Since Ridder Erling was the most handsome of the two it was he that attracted Skaarvangsole.

When Ivar Gjæsling heard of this he understood that it was not safe to leave her in Skårvangen if she was to be his. Enraged, Ivar Gjesling put pretense aside and took Skaarvangsole, kidnapping her and returning with her to Gudbransdalen. Against her will she was taken to his Sandbu estate in Shaarvangen. But before he could hold a proper feast and take her in marriage he had to go to the King’s coronation and would be away for some days. He took his best men with him and rode off.

In September, 1164, Erling Magnusen was to be crowned King in Bergen, Norway, and Ivar Gjesling, as his Lansman was required to be there. Ivar left for Bergen with all his soldiers – to put on as large a display as possible at the coronation. Skaarvingsole, was left behind with a few retainers and guards.

Skaarvangsole, who was not happy about being kidnapped by an older man, and who apparently had welcomed the courtship of the younger Ridder Erling, sent word to him that Ivar Gjesling was gone. No sooner than Ivar Gjæsling had ridden out from the farm, Skårvangsola managed to send a message over the mountain to Melby and told Erling that she was now caged at Sandbu. If he wished to free her he must come quickly while the hawk was away. Erling did not have to be asked twice, he flew over the mountain with all the men under his command. Ridder Erling and his followers attacked Gjesling’s estate. Ridder Erling, to show Skaarvangsole how much he loved her, killed all the guards and workmen, and burned Ivar Gjesling’s great house and all the other buildings at Sandbu.

Just after Erling and Skaarvangsole left, Ivar Gjesling returned – to find his estate in ruins and his men dead. Following Ridder Erling and Skaarvangsole, he spied them the next morning. Gjesling had his men take shrubs as camouflage and sneak through the swamp to get close to Erling’s encampment. Erling’s sharp-eyed watchman saw something amiss and ran to Erling to report “the forest moves!” Erling took Skaarvangsola on the front of his saddle and took off with his huscarl. All the rest of Ridder Erling’s soldiers were “killed where they sat,” protecting Erling’s retreat.

The chase was on! With Skaarvangsola on his horse with him, Erling could not hope to outrun Gjesling and his men. When Erling saw Ivar coming, he lept off his horse, and with Skaarvingsole and his huskarl, jumped over a deep river gorge. Ivars Gjesling’s huscarl made the leap as well, but Ridder Erling was ready and killed him with his sword. He shouted across the gorge to Ivar Gjesling’s men that he would be glad to kill any of them, as well, who cared to make the jump. None were willing. To this day, the place where Ridder Erling and Skaarvangsola made their leap is known as “Ridderspranget,” or “Knight’s Leap.”

Ridderspranget II

Ivar Gjesling returned home and Ridder Erling and Skaarvangsole made it to the mountains and saftey.

Ridder Erling’s rescue of Skaarvangsole did not come without cost. The king later sentenced Ridder Erling Sigvat to give a letter to Ivar Gjæsling ceding all of Heimdalen. But Ridder Erling and Skaarvangsole had at least one daughter, Ragnfrid, and she became an ancestor of the Eastvold Family.


Skårvangssola er ikke nevnt i noen historiske kilder bortsett fra i sagnet om Ridderspranget. Engebret Hougen hevder i “Gudbrandsdals-slekter” at “Kvie-ridderen”/”Valdres-ridderen” må være Erling av Kviden (selv om han ifølge sagnet het Sigvat).

Hougen hevder videre, at siden det ikke er kjent fra historiske kilder hvem Sandbu-ridderen (Ivar gamle Gjesling) var gift med, har ikke Ivar gamle Gjesling vært gift i det hele tatt, men fikk barn med Skårvangssola -som han i følge sagnet var forlovet med – før hun ble røvet. Dette barnet skal da ifølge Hougen være Håvard i Sundbu.

English (more or less):

Swathes Vang Sola is not mentioned in any historical sources except in the legend of Ridderspranget.  Engebret Hougan argues in “Gulbrandsdalslagen – families” that “Kvie Knight”/”Valdres knight” must be Earling of Kviden (although he claimed (in the) legend (to be) named Sigvat).

Hougen further argues that since it is not known from historical sources (to) who Sandbu Knight (old Ivar Gjeslings) was married, (perhaps) Ivar old Gjeslings (had not) been  married at all, but had children with swathes Vang Sola – whom he accompanied ( had a relationship with) (per) legend – before she was robbed (taken).  This child should then, according to Haugen, be Harvard in Sundbu.

Skarvangsole was born 1140, and died date unknown.She married (1) Erling Kvidnes.She married (2)  Ivar Gjesling, son of  Ivar Ivarsen Gjesling.
Notes for Skarvangsole:
Navn ukjent. Ivar tok henne fra eidendommen Skarvang og gjorde henne til sin kone. Da han var i Bergen med sine haermenn for a feire kroningen av kong Magnus Erikson, kom Ridder Erling pa Kvie/Kvindnes i Valdrestil Sandbu, der han satte fyr pa bygningene og tok Skaarvangsole med seg. For a komme unna hoppa han over Sjoa ved Ridderspranget og kom seg derfor unna, da ingen turde a folge etter. Dette skjedde i manedskiftet september/oktober i 1163.
Name unknown. Ivar took her from property Skarvang and made her his wife. When he was in Bergen with his warriors for a celebration of the coronation of King Magnus Erikson, came Ridder (Knight) Erling pa Kvie / Kvindnes in Valdrestil Sandbu, (with his men) where he put on fire the buildings (belonging to Ivar) and took Skaar Vang Sole with them. For a get away mare he over Sjoa by Ridderspranget (jumped from cliff to cliff) and broke therefore away when no one dared (follow). This happened in manedskiftet September / October 1163.
More About Skarvangsole:
Record Change: 20 May 2002
Children of Skarvangsole and Erling Kvidnes are:

  1. Ragnhild Erlingsdtr Kvidnes, b. Abt. 1165, d. date unknown (ancestor of the Eastvold family).

Children of Skarvangsole and Ivar Gjesling are:

  1. Havard Ivarsen Sandbu, b. Abt. 1163, d. 1238.

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