|by Niven Sinclair|
The Sinclairs/St. Clairs
remained loyal to the Roman Catholic faith until the late 17th century.
Their commitment to defend the faith was expressed in their motto, "Commit
thy work to God." So strong was their belief that they resisted the
Reformation in 1517, long after most fellow Scots and many Europeans
became Protestant. It was their strict loyalty to the Catholic Church and
to the ruling Stuarts in Scotland which caused the Sinclairs/St. Clairs to
lose favor with the succeeding Scottish Monarchs. Many branches of the
Sinclair/St. Clair family still remain of the Catholic persuasion to this
Was Prince Henry a
Catholic? There was no such religion as Protestantism at that time.
Certainly Henry was not Hindu, Muslim, or a pagan. We know Henry was a
Templar. Let us briefly review history during the earlier centuries. In
1118 AD the Templars were established to protect the Christian Pilgrims as
they traveled to the Holy Land in Jerusalem. They served under the sole
direction of the Pope! They remained in this capacity for two centuries,
until Pope Clement V moved his seat from the Vatican to Avignon in France.
Some say he was an impostor. There, he came under the strong influence of
his nephew, King Philip "le Bel" of France. This was also the time when
France had borrowed vast sums of money from the wealthy Templars. So huge
was this indebtedness that King Philip chose to exterminate the Templars,
rather than to pay back his obligations. This triggered the fateful
Suppression Order, supported by the Pope. All nations were asked to
capture the Templars. Scotland refused to obey the Suppression Order;
because its King Robert the Bruce had been excommunicated from the Church
for murdering John "the Red" Comyn in a church. Consequently, many
Templars fled to safety with their treasures to Scotland. They went to
Balantrodoch, their ancient outpost, located on the Sinclair estates near
Edinburgh. The Sinclairs had been members of the Knights Templar ever
since its founding in 1118. Were these Templars following the Catholic
faith? They were! Ritual used by the Templars today attests to their firm
religious beliefs. Of course the division of the Papacy between Rome and
Avignon, underscored by the Suppression Order, disrupted their lines of
affiliation with the Avignonese Pope. Bear in mind, Protestantism had not
yet been born. The Templars maintained their Catholic faith.
During the 14th century,
England under King Edward I (known as "the hammer of the Scots") was
constantly attacking Scotland. It began with the Battle of Rosslyn in 1303
when the Scots beat the English decisively in three separate engagements.
The English army had advanced in three columns, with 10,000 men in each.
They were engaged and decisively defeated by the 6,000 strong Scottish
army. This infuriated Edward I. In 1314 he marched North with a highly
trained army, intent upon getting revenge in a battle at Bannockburn. The
Scots won the battle, largely due to the intervention of the Knights
Templar on the side of King Robert the Bruce, assisted by Sir William
Sinclair and his two sons, William and Henry.
In appreciation of the role
played by the Templars at the Battle of Bannockburn, and in an effort to
disguise the presence of the Templars within his kingdom, he created the
Royal Sovereign Order of Scotland. Robert the Bruce also appointed William
Sinclair as the Grand Master of the Crafts and Guilds of Scotland. This
became a hereditary position with the Sinclairs until another William
Sinclair resigned the hereditary post of Grand Master for himself and his
heirs. He was then immediately elected as the first Grand Master in the
Scottish Grand Lodge of Speculative Masons in 1736.
In this hereditary chain,
Prince Henry Sinclair became the Grand Master of the Crafts and Guilds of
Scotland, as well as being a Knight Templar, pledged to protect the
Christian ideals. He was known as Henry "the Holy" St. Clair. He was a
true leader and was chosen as the Commander of a Templar inspired
expedition to the New World in 1398. The Templars had found a temporary
refuge in Scotland, but Scotland had neither the space nor the scope to
accommodate them. They wanted a new land where their ideals could take
root and flourish. They knew about the New World. Trade was already taking
place. The New World beckoned.
His Venetian admiral,
Antonio Zeno, said Prince Henry was a man "worthy of immortal memory
because of his great bravery and goodness." He reached America 94 years
before Columbus. He treated the indigenous people with respect,
understanding, and consideration. He called them his "beloved sons", as he
recognized they had the same underlying beliefs he had himself, namely
that God and Nature was One. There is no doubt, Henry St. Clair practiced
his faith in everything he did. Before he ended his stay in the New World,
it is thought that he applied his experience and religious beliefs in
building the Newport Tower, following the design lines of the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Henry was 13 years old at
the time when he inherited the barony of Rosslyn. This youth was trained
in martial arts with sword, spear, bow and arrow. Speaking Latin and
French, he became a knight at the age of 21 years. His first wife, who
died young, was the great-grand-daughter of King Magnus of Sweden and
Norway. His second wife, Janet Halyburton of Dirleton Castle, bore him
thirteen children. He was rewarded by Scotland's King David for a
successful raid into England with the title of Lord Sinclair and the
position of Lord Chief Justice of Scotland. Sinclair excelled in a furious
Henry Sinclair associated
closely with the Scottish Masons. He was the Grand Master of Scottish
Masons, an organization that had evolved from the suppressed Templars.
Many of its members lived in the area near Sinclair's Rosslyn Castle.
Their meeting place was Balantrodoch, a distance of only 15 miles. Ever
since their forefathers, seventy years earlier, were exiled from the Holy
Land and Europe, they had hidden their Templar origins. They eagerly
wanted to find a land that was free from suppression, free from the fear
of being put to death.
Sinclair was installed as
the Jarl of Orkney and Lord of Shetland when he was only 24 years old. The
earldom included the Faeroes, the Orkneys, the Shetlands. Sinclair held
his appointment at the pleasure of King Hakon VI of Norway. Norway had
ruled the islands since the ninth century. But, as "Jarl", he was next to
royalty; there was almost no supervision from the Norwegian throne. Thus,
he was called "Prince". He had authority to stamp coins, to make laws,
remit crimes, wear a crown, and have a sword carried before him.
Before he was 35 years old,
he constructed Kirkwall Castle for his headquarters in Orkney. A fleet of
ships was built, larger than Norway's navy. Henry set out to affirm his
rule the Faeroe Isles in the name of the King of Norway. Norway was
hard-pressed to defend itself from Baltic pirates without Sinclair's
assistance. It is interesting to note that Prince Henry brooded over his
lack of guns. This was a new technology, developed at that time by the
naval powers in the Mediterranean area. Cannons had proven effective for
Carlo "the Lion" Zeno in defending Venice.
Henry Sinclair employed the
services of Nicolo and Antonio Zeno, brothers of the most famous admiral
of the time, Carlo Zeno. Nicolo had been an elector of the Doge and was
one of the twelve Orators sent by the Venetian Senate with five galleys to
Marseilles to carry the Pope and his court to Rome. Nicolo had also been
captain of a galley in the war to protect the Genoese, and he was the
Venetian ambassador to Ferrara in 1382. The Zenos brought to Sinclair the
design of the first cannon used on ships.
Nicolo died in 1395, and
Antonio became captain and navigator of Henry's fleet. They maintained the
ship's log, the "Zeno Narrative". It told about a survey to make a map of
Greenland in about 1393 by Nicolo Zeno. This Zeno Map of the North proved
to be the most accurate map in existence for the next 150 years! And this
"Narrative" has helped to prove that Sinclair sailed to America.
Henry Sinclair, his trusted
friend, Sir James Gunn, Antonio Zeno, and his Templar friends planned a
voyage to find this rich new land. After fitting out their thirteen barks,
they took to the sea around April 1, 1398. with 200 - 300 men. Day after
day they sailed. The Zeno document suggests they saw land at Newfoundland,
but natives drove them away. Sailing farther, they came to Chedabucto Bay
in Nova Scotia. They dropped anchor on the first of June in Guysborough
The Zeno Narrative provides
only a limited description of the party's exploration. A hundred soldiers
were dispatched to explore the source of smoke they saw swirling above a
distant hill. It came from a great fire in the bottom of a hill, where a
spring from which issued a certain substance like pitch ran into the sea.
They also saw many people, half-wild, and living in caves. This was their
first contact with the Micmac Indians. Geographical detective work,
archaeology, modern science and various documents have pinpointed the
burning hill as the asphalt area at Stellarton, about 50 miles direct from
the head of Guysborough harbor.
The Zeno brothers called
Prince Henry by the name of "Zichmni". This is an ancient translation of
"Orkney", a shortened form for Prince of Orkney. >From the Zeno Narrative
we read the following translation by Richard H. Major:
``So we brought our barks and our boats in
to land, and we entered an excellent harbor, and we saw in the distance
a great mountain that poured out smoke. .... there were great multitudes
of people, half-wild and living in caves. These were very small of
stature and very timid; for when they saw our people, they fled into
their holes. .... When Zichmni heard this and noticed that the place had
a wholesome and pure atmosphere, a fertile soil and good rivers and so
many other attractions, he conceived the idea of staying there and
founding a city.''
Some men, led by Antonio
Zeno, returned home to Europe. The rest chose to remain with Prince Henry
with two oar-powered boats. It is thought they wanted to establish a
settlement. At last the Templars might have a home, free of suppression!
Prince Henry persuaded the
Micmac Indians to act as guides in his exploration of Nova Scotia. He
first thought it to be an island. The narrow isthmus at Bair Verte changed
his mind. It was navigable by canoe to Cumberland Basin with a portage of
only three miles. The trip along River Herbert toward Parrsboro included
only one portage of just 400 yards in its 22-mile length. Sinclair may
then have traveled on to Annapolis Basin and across the Micmac canoe route
to Liverpool. By October, he was back on Green Hill, southwest of Pictou
harbor, to attend a gathering of the Micmacs. "Twas the time for holding
the great and yearly feast with dancing and merry games."
Next, he doubled back to
Spencer Island, Minas Channel, and did some hunting. The meat of the
animals was sliced and dried. The bones were chopped up and boiled in a
big iron pot to extract the marrow.
investigators have discovered other sites in Nova Scotia, where Henry
Sinclair probably visited. Evidence is not complete, but it is highly
suggestive. A few locations include the Castle at the Cross, Oak Island
and its Money Pit, and the Cannon of Louisburg Harbor.
The Castle at the Cross is
atop Cadbury Hill and Gastonbury Tor, 17 miles from Chester, Nova Scotia.
Only a mound of earth and stone remains today of the suspected ancient
structure. Researchers believe 14th Century Norsemen and Scots built it,
based on designs in the rubblework masonry. Several items were found
around these ruins, including a much corroded pin, portion of a sword
blade, wooden cones, and pieces of iron tools. From the scanty ruins, it
is thought that the Castle had guard towers, main gate with pillars, and a
dome or cone. Some historians believe this was a settlement by Prince
Henry Sinclair, as shown in the lower left of the famous "Zeno Map" of the
North. The Micmac legends describes Prince Henry's winter quarters in the
vicinity of Advocate Harbor and Parrsboro. It was there, near Cape D'Or,
that the explorers are thought to have built a new ship for their return
voyage. The exact location is uncertain, however, mounds of dirt and stone
formations have given archaeologists some clues. Here the Christian
explorers would have celebrated Christmas, perhaps the first Christmas
ever on American soil!
It is more than coincidence
that a unique, primitive cannon was found about 1849 at Louisburg Harbor
on Cape Breton Island. Presumably, this gun was from Prince Henry's fleet
in 1398. It had eight rings around its barrel, and a detachable breech
with a handle. Several very similar cannons are on display at the Naval
Museum in Venice. These are the same type as those used by Carlo Zeno at
the Battle of Chioggia. They became obsolete by the end of the 14th
century. Later cannons were made in a single piece without that kind of
Oak Island in Mahone Bay of
Golden River, Nova Scotia, is one of only two islands, in a group of 350,
where oak trees can be found! These oaks are thought to have been planted
by ancient mariners to serve as a navigational aid to find the Castle at
the Cross. From Oak Island, looking toward the mainland of Nova Scotia,
the river leading to the Castle is to the right. The Celtic word for "oak"
also means both "right" and "door".
This island on the Atlantic
side has captured much attention because of its Money Pit, which is
shrouded by mystery. It is a deep hole at the center of Oak Island. An
elaborate security system was devised, whereby anyone exploring its depths
would trigger the flood tunnels. Is this the hiding place for gold panned
from Golden River? Or did Prince Henry deposit some Templar treasures in
this hiding place? Was the Holy Grail placed there for safekeeping?
The Pit was discovered by
three boys in 1795. At a depth of two feet there was a layer of stones. At
10 feet lay the first of many oak log platforms, set at 10-foot intervals
as the depth increased. In 1802, Onslow Company discovered more log
platforms, going down 93 feet. In 1849, the Truro Company drilled augur
holes near the existing cavity. At the 154-foot level the drill went
through a 5-inch oak platform and dropped another 12 inches farther until
it struck another oak platform. Then it went through 22 inches of metal
scrap, including an ancient watch chain! Oak timbers reappeared at a
deeper depth, followed by another 22-inch layer of metal fragments. After
the next layer of oak, they found 6 inches of spruce wood. Still other
digs produced some scraps of parchment, with letters that looked like "vi"
in hand script. At the 171-foot level an iron plate appeared. Coconut
fibre, not native, was dated to be of 14th century origin! Then in 1909,
the famous treasure hunter, Franklin D. Roosevelt many shares in Old Gold
Salvage & Wrecking Company, which did more exploring at the Money Pit, but
to no avail. More than $2 million has been expended on this Money Pit!
The Micmac Indians have a
custom of preserving their history, and passing it along to the next
generations, by their legends. This tradition continues today. Historians
have studied these Legends. There are seventeen striking similarities
between Glooscap and Prince Henry. Even the name "Glooscap" in Indian
tongue, sounds like the combination of "Jarl Sinclair"! References to his
personal features and qualities are too coincidental to be by accident.
Until then, the Indians did not know how to fish with nets. Europeans were
introduced to corn at this time in history. The large sailboat of Prince
Henry was called "floating island" by the Indians. A quotation from the
Micmac legends follow:
"Kuloskap was the first,
First and greatest,
To come into our land -
Into Nova Scotia, Canada,
Into Maine, into Wabanaki,
The land of sunrise, or Light.
Thus it was Kuloskap the Great
Made man: He took his arrows
And shot a tree, the ash,
Known as the basket-tree.
From the hole made by the arrow
Came forth new forms, and these
Were the first of human kind.
And so the Lord gave them a name
Meaning "those born from trees".
Kuloskap the Lord of Light
Made all the animals.
First he created
All of giant size;
Such was the beginning."
In the springtime, the
European explorers loaded up in their ships and traveled southward,
perhaps carried by a northeaster, to the New England Coast, just north of
Boston. Perhaps their southward voyage was planned, seeking more evidence
of the peacefulness of this "rich and populous land".
Evidence indicates they
travelled up the Merrimack River to Stony Brook, which they followed as
far as possible. The party landed and explored this new land, meeting
peacefully with the Algonquin Indians. To the west they could see a
hilltop, from which the Indians may have sent smoke signals.
In the springtime, the
European explorers loaded their ships and traveled southward to the New
England Coast, just north of Boston. Evidence indicates they travelled to
the Merrimack River, then upstream to Stony Brook to its source. The party
landed and spent the winter, living peacefully with the Algonquin Indians.
While hiking toward
Prospect Hill, one of Prince Henry's companions by the name of Sir James
Gunn died. In memory of their lost companion, the party carved a marker on
the face of a horizontal stone ledge. Various sized holes were punched
into the stone by a sharp tool, driven by a mallet. The image was that of
a Scottish Knight, with a 39-inch long sword and shield, bearing the Gunn
family insignia. Where glacial scratches or rock colorations existed, they
were incorporated into the manmade picture.
Located beside this ancient
rock carving are four stone posts with heavy iron chains. A recent granite
monument was erected by Allister MacDougall, the Town Historian, to honor
Prince Henry Sinclair's companion. The inscription on the granite stone
"Prince Henry First Sinclair of Orkney born
in Scotland made a voyage of discovery to North America in 1398. After
wintering in Nova Scotia he sailed to Massachusetts and on an inland
expedition in 1399 to Prospect Hill to view the surrounding countryside,
one of the party died. The punch-hole armorial effigy that adorns this
ledge is a Memorial to this Knight."
If you take a very close
look at the rock ledge, you will see the punched holes. They are very
weather-worn. Someone has painted a shield on the rock surface, and this
painting helps you see the punched holes. Natives in this town of Westford
are familiar with their Westford Knight. Historian Frederick J. Pohl heard
of these revelations and visited Westford to see the discovery for
himself. He reported, "The following are undeniably manmade workings: the
pommel, handle, and guard of the sword; below the guard the break across
the blade suggests the death of the sword's owner; the crest above the
pommel; a few holes at the sword's point; the punch-hole jess lines
attached to the legs of the falcon; the bell-shaped hollows; the corner of
the shield touching the pommel; the crescent on the shield; and the holes
that form a decorative pattern on the pommel." Archaeologist James P.
Whittall, among many others, has also studied the Westford Carvings
extensively and he confirms these findings.