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Memoirs and Adventures of Sir John Hepburn
Chapter V. The Grave of the Sinclairs


“Zinclair came over the salt blue sea,
To storm the cliffs of old Norway."
—Norwegian Sang.

So early as 1612 Gustavus had recruited largely for his armies in Scotland. In the March of that year, Colonel Monkhoven, a Swedish officer of great talent and energy, had enlisted two thousand three hundred men; while one regiment, nine hundred strong, was raised by George Sinclair, a gentleman of Caithness, entirely among his own clan and surname, to fight against Denmark. That nation had frequently captured Scottish ships, which excited a hostile feeling against it among the Scottish people. Thus, in 1617, the Danish cruisers made prizes of several ships, the property of Thomas Watson, merchant in Edinburgh, concerning which the Privy Council petitioned James VI.

Monkhoven, on his return, found Elfborg, and the whole coast from Nyborg to Calmar, in possession of the Danes, and that even Stockholm itself was threatened. He was obliged, in consequence, to sail northward and land at Trondheim, from whence, at the head of his Scots, he forced a passage over the mighty chain of the Norwegian alps to Jamtland, and reached Stockholm, then invested by the Danish fleet; and the sudden appearance of these Scottish auxiliaries extricated Gustavus, and enabled him to conclude the peace of 1613.

Less fortunate, the regiment of Sinclairs, to withdraw the enemy’s attention from Monkhoven’s line of march, proceeded by Rhomsdhal, Lessoo, and the deep valley which is overshadowed by the tremendous rocks of the Dovrefeldt, a Norwegian mountain eight thousand feet in height; where their colonel committed a great oversight, in omitting to seize the principal inhabitants and march them with the column, that their lives might answer for the peaceable conduct of the boors.

The old hereditary hatred of the Norsemen to the Scots was exasperated by numerous repulses they suffered at the hands of Sinclair and his clansmen, and they resolved on a more sure and deadly revenge.

Led by Berdon Segelstadt of Ringeboc, the whole peasantry of Yaage, Froen, and Lessoo, took possession of the Kringellen, a gorge in the mountains through which the Scots were to pass on their route to the Swedish territories. It is more than probable that the Sinclairs would not be completely armed, being mere recruits, and consequently were less able to repel a mode of attack which would have destroyed ten times their number of the best appointed troops.

Colonel Sinclair’s lady accompanied the column on horseback. Night was closing, and the deep Norwegian fiords, and the pine forests that overhung them, were growing dark, when the Highland regiment entered the narrow path, which on one side is cut through the solid rock, and on the other descends abruptly, in a terrific manner, to a deep and rapid river, the hoarse brawl of which is the only sound that usually disturbs that mountain solitude. The stillness and apparent loneliness of the place, together with the devious and difficult nature of the deep pass, caused the Sinclairs to straggle in their march ; and they had barely attained the middle of the defile, when the roar of more than a thousand carbines reverberated like thunder from the rocks above them, while the dark pine-woods seemed to fill with fire and smoke.

Berdon and his boors, from their post on the cliffs, poured down a close and unerring fire; while in addition to this murderous fusilade, against which not one shot could be returned, large masses of rock, which overhung the gorge, were rent from their beds, and by levers hurled down on the unfortunate soldiers, making vast breaches in the narrow pathway, crushing whole sections on their march, or precipitating them into the deep chasm through which the mountain-torrent foamed.

The gallant George Sinclair was shot dead, when, claymore in hand, he was making a futile attempt to scale the rocks; and all his clansmen perished with him. One by one they were shot down by those assailants, who dared not have met them on the open field; and sixty, who fell alive into their hands, after being divided among the hamlets, when their captors grew tired of feeding them, were collected in a meadow near the pass, and there shot in cold blood,—one alone escaping from the vale of horror, by the aid of a female peasant, a fair Narwegienne, whom he afterwards married, and through whom he left numerous descendants, whose origin is well known in the district of the Dovrefeldt.

Neither history nor tradition has recorded the fate of Sinclair's lady, so it must be presumed that she perished with her husband.

“The banquet board was spread by death,
Amidst Kringellen hall;
And the ravens from a thousand hills
Held greedy carnival;
But the eagle from the Dovre-foeld
Presided lord of all”

Many were, indeed, (as the ballad says,) left to feed the wolf and the raven, or the white bears of Guldbrandshal. The rest were buried with their gallant leader; a mound of earth was heaped above them; and a wooden cross, by the side of that savage pass, long marked the spot where the slaughtered regiment lay. The people of Guldbrandshal still remember with pride this murderous exploit of their forefathers, of whose valour they sing with triumph; and to preserve the memory of how

"Nikundert Skotter Bley lenuaet aom leer potter”

as their barbarous songs have it, a marble monument has been erected by the Norwegian government, to mark the grave of the Sinclairs.

The cross and tablet stand in one of the deepest solitudes of the Dovrefeldt, and on the latter is this inscription:—

“Here lies Colonel JORGEN ZINCLAIR, whose 900 Scotsmen were dashed to pieces like earthen pots by the Boors of Lessoo, Vaage, and Froen.

Bbrdon Segelstadt of Ringeboc was leader of the Boors. Destroyed by the Flood of 1789, this Tablet was again restored by the Boors, A. Viberg and N. Vug.


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