Vond-Åsmund Rygnestad or Åsmund the evil, is a legend in the history of Setesdal. He built and lived at the farm Rygnestadstunet. The legend states that he was blond, handsome, well built - strong and vigorous. The legend also tells that he had great courage, he was proud and bold, smart, literate, wise and a good man. He was a real Viking and a chief in Setesdal. He was very well liked in the community, particularly by the girls - no one could lead them on the dance floor as he could, and no one looked as good as him on his horse.
Commanded to war
However - at a young age he was commanded by the Danish king to join the war. At the time the Danish king lead several wars, particularly against Sweden. The Norwegians were shipped to war as the Danish citizens they were at the time. Though, it was not very popular to go to war for the Danish Crown; so many fled to the Netherlands. The Netherlands had strong trade connections with Norway at the time, buying wood for the building of their enormous fleet. So Åsmund joined the Danish king’s war, but then fled to the Netherlands. However, ending up joining The Dutch Independence War 1567-1648.
Before leaving Rygnestad and Setesdal, he went to a Christmas party in Viki[disambiguation needed]. He came up to a fight, and was badly stabbed in the arm so the blood was flooding - a girl named Hege ripped off her headscarf and rushed up to him to tie it around his arm; stopping the bleeding. It was love at first sight, and they agreed to engage; to her father's and brother's dismay. Hege promised to wait for him for the next 3 years until he came back from the war, and happily - off he went.
The years went, and Åsmund did not return to Rygnestad. The stories says that Hege waited patiently for 3 years, some tales sais 5 to 7 years, but no Åsmund returned. In the end, her family persuaded her to marry the neighbor son. At the same time Åsmund came ashore on Agderstrandi, on the south tip of Norway. Many things had prevented his return, but he was still hoping Hege had waited for him. Quite soon he learned that Hege was soon to marry - and that made him act quickly. He got hold of a horse and ran him to collapse, and then he got a new horse and managed to arrive at Rygnestad the day before Hege's wedding.
Hege was preparing for the wedding celebrations at a farm in Nodeland, when she saw a man at horse in a red uniform. At once she recognized him. Åsmund came riding into the courtyard - the groom and all the wedding guest had to flee not to be rundown. Hege ran down to him, and he lifted her up on his horse, screaming to all around him: "If anyone that dares take my bride away, do it now!" But no one dared.
Hence Åsmund became both a deserter and bride's thief - he was declared lawless. Hege and Åsmund fled up into the mountains. The legend says nothing about how he got back to the farm. However years later, Åsmund and Hege returns to Rygnestad and lived there unmarried.
Leaflet about Vond-Åasmund.
- Løyland, Hallvard. Vond-Åsmund Rygnestad, leaflet, Arne Quist Trykkeri, Hønefoss, 1920.