Gange-Rolv, the Viking chief from the municipality of Giske

Gange-Rolv (or Hrólfr Rögnvaldsson (ca 860 – 932) as he was named) was the son of Ragnvald Mørejarl (earl of the county of More), a person most known for cutting the hair of King Harald Hårfagre after he gathered Norway into one Kingdom. He was declared as the first Duke of Normandy in 911.

Wilhelm the conqueror, 5th generation after Rollon, was crowned King of England after the battle at Hastings in 1066. The ancestors of the English royal house therefore might have originated from Giske.

After sailing as Vikings to eastern Europa, Gange-Rolv and his men entered Viken (today Oslo). They ravaged so violently that King Harald Hårfagre brought ban to Gange-Rolv, and he had to flee from Norway. It is assumed that he and his men at around year 880 A.D. sailed to Normandy via Iceland, Faroe islands, Orkney islands, the Hebrides and Isle of Man.

As a central and important Viking chief in the region, it was struck an agreement of peace between the French King Karl the Simpleton and Gange-Rolv, and he was declared as the first Duke of Normandy in 911 and named Robert. But he was mostly called Rollon which is a french version of Rolv. This took place in Saint-Clair-sur-Epte, a few miles southeast of Rouen.

An old saying tells of Gang-Rolv / Rollo that he, when he met King Karl the Simpleton by the river Epte in St. Claire to strike this agreement, did not want to kneel to kiss the King’s foot as the normal etiquette demanded. One of his Vikings was instead ordered to do so, but even he did not want to kneel. Instead he took hold of the King’s foot and lifted it so high that the King fell backwards.

This story of Gange-Rolv is quite typical of the stories being told in retrospect. Around a core of truth – here the meeting by the river Epte in St. Claire – the most incredible stories are being spun about the Viking chief who became forefather to the English Royal House.

It is being debated whether Rollo were Danish or Norwegian. Most Danish and German historians claim he is a Dane while it is a strong belief among English, French and Norwegian historians that he was a Norwegian. Among many written sources, Rolv is mentioned in “Islendingabok” from the first part of the 10th century which tells of taxes inhabitants had to pay, and the later “Landnåmabok” which tells of Icelandic settlers from the later part of the 7th century, and also in several sagas of Norwegian Kings.

At Roald on the island of Vigra, the youth-organisation «Mjølner» erected a monolith in the memory of Gange-Rolv. The monolith was taken from the local mountain «Storehornet» (Big Peak). 70 men participated in relocating it to Roald where it still stands. A small park with a information board has been established.

To commemorate the 1000-year anniversary for the grounding of Normandy, the city of Ålesund received a bronze statue of Gange-Rolv as a present from the French city of Rouen. This is a copy of the statue which is being located in the park close to the cathedral of Jeanne d'Arc in Rouen. Another copy is located in Fargo, North-Dakota in the USA. This was a present from French ancestors to Norwegian ancestors in USA in 1912.

In 2011 the municipalities of Ålesund and Giske commemorated the 1100-year anniversary. This was also heavily commemorated in France.