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The Scottish Expedition in Norway in 1612


Margaret of Denmark was the wife of the Norse King Haakon VI. (1343—1380). After his death, by the Calmar Act of Union in 1397, Margaret became Queen of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. History shows that the Union was unfortunate for each of the three nations, especially for Norway, which, although nominally an independent kingdom, soon became really a vassal province of Denmark and remained so for upwards of four centuries.

In 1589 King James VI. of Scotland married the Princess Anne, sister of King Christian IV. of Denmark, in romantic circumstances at Oslo, the capital of Norway. James VI. and Christian IV., being brothers-in-law, desired that their respective countries should be on friendly terms, and engagements were entered into for the purpose of securing amicable relations. At that time Denmark had been suzerain of Norway for over two centuries, and the vassal kingdom was practically impotent. Able Norwegians were certainly welcomed in Denmark, and one of these, Christopher Throndsen, had risen to be Lord High Admiral of the Danish fleet. His daughter Anne was the Norse bride of the notorious Earl of Bothwell. She is known in Norwegian history as Skottefruen, the Scottish Lady ; and it was her claim for redress from him, in Bergen in 1567, when he was fleeing from Scotland after Queen Mary’s capture, that led to Bothwell’s conveyance to Copenhagen, his incarceration in a Danish prison, and his tragic death.

But the old Viking spirit had apparently died out among the Norse for want of exercise and outlet. There was no Norwegian army or militia or armed force in the land; and although some few Norsemen might be found in the small Danish standing army, yet the King of Denmark had to depend in great measure, as so many sovereigns of that day, on mercenary soldiers enlisted from foreign lands when any important fighting had to be done.

Denmark and Sweden then, as now, had many common interests and also many causes for controversy; and at the beginning of the seventeenth century Norway happened to be the bone of contention. Norway having been neglected by her suzerain, and being defenceless, had been encroached on by the Swedes and valuable territories were filched away. The Swedes ravaged with fire and sword, maintaining that only the islands off the coast to the north of the Arctic Circle belonged to Norway. In 1611 King Christian IV. resolved to resist the Swedish claims and the Swedish inroads on Norse territory. War was declared, and eventually Denmark was victorious.

But the victory was not due so much to the Danes and the Norwegians themselves as to the mercenary soldiers that had been engaged to fight for them. From the very first Denmark and Norway were able to close the Cattegat and so prevent assistance for Sweden reaching the Baltic from the North Sea or English Channel. Allies and hired soldiers from Western lands had therefore to find another route to Sweden, and the most natural one was across Norway where there were no troops to oppose them.


Since the Viking period the Scandinavian lands had gradually lost their love of fighting, and in Norway the peasants had no great fondness for Danish enterprises. They were prepared to defend their own homesteads, but they had no wish to wage war with other nations or fight in other lands. When danger threatened at home, or an expedition abroad seemed necessary, the Danish and Swedish kings hired professional soldiers from any available quarter. As the Scots were then famous fighters and never knew when they were beaten, their aid was welcomed everywhere. In this particular quarrel the Danish king had obtained mercenaries from Germany and France as well as from England, where his brother-in-law James VI. was favourable to his cause. King Gustavus Adolphus recruited his forces in the same lands, and the raising of a regiment in Scotland was entrusted to Sir James Spens of Wormiston, in Fife, who was a noted personality in those days. He was at one time in the Scottish, at another in the Swedish service; now a diplomatist, now a soldier. He was eventually naturalised in Sweden and ennobled.

Spens commissioned Colonel Andrew Hamsay, a brother of Sir John Ramsay, who was a favourite of King James VI., to raise the Scots regiment; and on account of his friendship with the King it was naturally supposed that His Majesty favoured the enterprise. This was far from being the case. Indeed, King James, in London, seems never to have heard of the enlisting of Scotsmen for Sweden until it was almost too late. And he might never have heard of it in time if the recruiting had been done more cautiously and without press-gang methods. Then the King lost no time, and no fewer than nine proclamations were issued by him to show his goodwill for "his dearest brother the King of Denmark." Yet, in spite of them all, a force of about 900 men was enlisted by Colonel Ramsay, chiefly from the Caithness district. The King’s prohibition, however, made it difficult for the leaders to get the necessary vessels to convey the men out of Scotland.

Eventually, on the 2nd of August 1612, two vessels, one from Dundee and the other from Caithness, sailed for Norway with a small staff of officers who had with them only about one-third of the enlisted force. As we have seen, Sir James Spens entrusted the raising of the force to Andrew Ramsay, to whom he gave a colonel’s commission from the Swedish king. Colonel Ramsay then gave the leadership of the overseas enterprise to his brother Alexander, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He had as captains George Sinclair, George Hay, and Sir Henry Bruce, and as lieutenants James Scott and James Moneypenny, who acted as interpreter to the expedition.


In the Danish official documents the enterprise is referred to as Skottetoget (the Scottish Expedition), but the Norse peasants connect it with the name of Captain Sinclair. They speak of the Sinclair Raid as being overwhelmed in the Sinklair Dokka (Dip) at Kringom; the memorial on the spot is called the Sinklair Stotte; and the story of the expedition is told in a succession of Sinclair ballads, legends, and traditions. The explanation of this is that Sinclair was killed in a fateful ambuscade. The other officers thought that their treatment might be more tolerable if the peasants believed that the dead officer had been the leader of the force. The Norwegians always refer to him as Colonel Sinklair.

George Sinclair was the son of David Sinclair of Stirkoke, and nephew of the Earl of Caithness. One Norse story relates that George Sinclair and his brother John were at the Edinburgh High School in 1595, when there was a mutiny among the boys because a September holiday for some reason was refused. The lads barricaded themselves in the school, and when the city officers stormed the building George Sinclair fired a pistol and shot a bailie. He and his brother and some other lads were imprisoned for several months. But history tells us that the guilty boy was really William Sinclair, son of William Sinclair, Chancellor of Caithness.

But Captain George Sinclair was guilty of a treacherous act. Lord Maxwell had been banished for slaying the Laird of Johnstone in a famous border feud. Maxwell secretly returned to Scotland and sought protection from the Earl of Caithness whose wife was a cousin of Lord Maxwell. But the Earl, for the sake of expected reward, made use of George Sinclair to beguile the outlaw into the hands of enemies at Castle Sinclair, near Thurso. Maxwell was hanged in Edinburgh in 1613. But the Earl did not benefit by the dastardly deed; and within a few weeks of the betrayal Sinclair met his own fate at Kringom. When Maxwell found that he was betrayed he cursed Sinclair, who is represented as being a superstitious man. During the expedition to Norway Sinclair was often moody when the omens were consulted and proved adverse, and apparently his conscience was troubling him.

The number of men who were conveyed to Norway in the two vessels was probably about 300. It was natural for the Norse peasants to magnify their victory. The Sinclair Ballad gives the number of the Scots as 1400; the figure is given as 900 on a monument over Sinclair’s grave dating from 1789, and is repeated in 1838 by the local minister, Dean Krag, whose book about the traditions of the expedition is very interesting, although sometimes poorly authenticated. The figure has been gradually decreasing down to the latest and most careful authority, Colonel H. Angell, who says, in the tercentenary memorial volume, that the total number on the two ships was about 400 men, perhaps rather less. Sir James Spens, after learning of the fate of the expedition, wrote on 26th October 1612 to King James VI. and states that the number of the Scots was 300. If we accept that number as correct, then it most satisfactorily agrees with any reasonable explanation of the surprise and defeat of the Scots. It is agreed that the Norse peasants numbered about 500.


Alexander Ramsay sailed from Dundee on 2nd August, and Sinclair on the same day from Caithness. It is understood that they met somewhere in Orkney and remained for a fortnight either in the hope that others might join them, or to procure provisions since they had been compelled to leave Scotland so hurriedly. In any case the journey across the North Sea took three days, and they made for the Romsdalsfjord from which convenient valleys led to Sweden. When they entered the fjord it is reported that they hailed a fisherman, who was in a boat with his daughter, and wished him to pilot them to Veblungsnaes where they had to land for their journey. The girl was frightened and they set her ashore, giving her a pair of scissors with silver handles and a silver thimble. These were for long preserved in the Helland family but were eventually sold to relic hunters.

The Scots landed at Klungnoes on 19th August just under the bluff called Skotshammer (Scots Craig), where a monument now stands in honour of the farmer Per Klungnoes. The officers had decided that it was necessary for them to have a guide across the country, and they laid hold of the farmer without ceremony and compelled him to show the way. He found means of sending a warning to the peasants up the Romsdal, and he began by conducting the Scots by devious and difficult paths in order to give the dalesmen time to get the news. The farmers and peasants quickly responded to the call; but no one seemed able to take the command and oppose the advance of the strangers. The Scots were kept well in hand and did no damage at all. Indeed, as they expected to receive all necessary equipment on their arrival in Sweden only a comparatively small number of them were properly armed. Moreover, as a considerable proportion of the men had been pressed into service and forced on board the vessels, these unwilling recruits were a source of weakness. Consequently, the officers were anxious to avoid any trouble with the Norse. Tales of plundering and maltreatment were rumoured, some of the stories being terrible and precise. These may be completely disregarded. In the Norwegian Viceroy’s second report to the Danish Chancellor regarding the expedition he says, "We have ascertained that those Scots who were defeated and captured on their march through the country have absolutely neither burned, murdered nor destroyed anything either in Homsdalen or Gudbrandsdalen." Naturally, the peasants were afraid on the approach of the great straggling Scots force, and in order to prevent damage to their property they fled to the hills, usually leaving tables loaded with food or perhaps a cow or sheep tethered for the men to eat.

But, however peacefully the Scotsmen advanced, yet they were enemies, and the dalesmen were resolved to block the way. Once or twice at likely points preparations were begun, but either because the Scots came up too soon or because the natives were afraid, no attack was made, and the route was not barred. The Romsdal is one of the most imposing valleys in Norway, with the Romsdalshorn on the one side rising to a height of 5000 feet, and Trolltinderne to 6000 on the other. The valley is so narrow that there is hardly room for more than the river, the road, and the railway to-day, and there are mighty screes here and there:

"Crags, knolls, and mounds confusedly hurled,
The fragments of an earlier world."

One wonders how the Scottish force made any progress at all; yet the Norse reports indicate that the rate of travel was from twenty to twenty-five miles per day. At one very dangerous spot the Scots suspected that the peasants were preparing to bar the way. They therefore resolved to climb the mountain rather than risk delay at the Bears Cliff, and after reaching a height of 2200 feet they passed from the Romsdal into the Gudbrandsdal.

The local magistrate, Lars Hage, received the news of the advancing Scots on Sunday morning, 23rd August. He seized his battle-axe and hastened to the church of Dovre where he dramatically interrupted the service. Advancing right up to the pulpit to the surprise of the whole congregation, he turned at the chancel and struck the floor three times with his axe, and exclaimed, "Give ear, the enemy is at hand!" The minister at once dismissed the congregation. The men assembled in the churchyard and made the necessary preparations without loss of time. The fiery cross was immediately sent out, and from all the neighbouring parishes and valleys men came trooping until, within twenty-four hours, nearly 500 peasants had responded to the call.


The peasants resolved to make an ambuscade and attack at a place called High Kringom or Kringelen. At High Kringom the mountain Vetahö sends down a cliff or bluff to the Laugen. There the river turns sharply to the left, and after a straight course of 500 yards or so, at a similar bluff, the Laugen again turns sharply to the left. On rounding the northern bluff the road was at a level of 150 feet above the river on a steepish slope, and it descended somewhat with a deeper dip (Dokka, now Sinklair Dokka), rising again till it turned the corner at the southern bluff.

The tradition is that immediately above Dokka trees were cut down, made into logs, and arranged into a mighty pile intermingled with rocks and stones, all held together with ropes and props. This tomrnerrelte, as it is called, with a fall of about forty yards to the road, was to be let loose on a given signal, when the road at Dokka was filled with the Scots. But as the path was very narrow the number killed in the Dokka by such a tommervelte could not have been more than twenty-five or so. If, however, there were two such timber piles, one above the road at each bluff, then, after the advance guard had passed out, and when the main body was on the way through Kringom, if the two piles were let loose the Scots would be completely trapped. For the advance guard could not come back to help their comrades, and the peasants, well concealed, being at least two to one when the vanguard was hors de combat, might very readily account for all the confounded and disordered Scots.

It is, however, very remarkable that the official reports and the ballads and early local traditions make no mention whatever of a tömmervelte, and only in later legends and tales is there any mention of such. When the popular idea in course of time had magnified the number of Scots to 900 or even 1400, and brought down the number of the peasants to 300, it occurred to someone that the dalesmen could not in any ordinary way have annihilated their foes without much loss on their own side. The tommervelte was then naïvely invented to explain it all. But the Norse were as five to three. In reality they were skilfully led; their plan of attack at the remarkably suitable Kringom was well conceived; foresight was shown in all the preparations and signals, and the knowledge that the natives greatly outnumbered their foes made success certain, provided that the Scots remained in ignorance of their danger.

It was on Sunday, 23rd August, that Lars Hage in Dovre church so dramatically announced the approach of the enemy, who were that day probably at Lesje, only sixteen miles distant. Kringom, the proposed place of attack, was twenty miles farther on; and by Monday night the fiery cross had brought the peasants in large numbers to the farms in Sel, and there they spent the night. On Tuesday the dalesmen reached the arena of combat, and were allotted their particular tasks, and carefully instructed in their duties. Peasants as they were, they had but little war equipment. Their weapons were long-handled axes and swords, straight or curved; some had bows, and a number had arquebuses and matchlock guns.

On Monday, the 24th, the Scots reached Dovre parish and spent the night at the farm of Landheim, where there was a leikarvoll or playground. There they had a feast, and the pipers played and the men danced. Tradition tells that the natives heard the pipers and watched the reels from the hill slopes, whither they had fled. There Per Klungnces, their guide, might tell them of the Rosti gorge ten miles distant, where possibly the dalesmen might oppose them or block their progress by destroying the bridge. And sure enough the Rosti bridge was thrown down during the night, and such a poor track as the Scots had been traversing until then had to be exchanged for the trackless mountainside until they reached Romundgaard and the other Sel farms, where the peasants had spent the previous night. Their toilsome march or journey had been something like twenty-five miles that day.

In Romundgaard, which is still standing, Sinclair and his men spent the night, the last night for most of them. At the houses which the Scots found unoccupied the farmers had left cattle tied to the fences as a propitiation that the foreign force might not burn the buildings or do damage to property. In this parish there is a loch called Skotvandet, and a farm called Skotte, memorials of the brief stay of the Scots there. And there are many unlikely legends about Sinclair’s wife and sundry happenings. The seed of a poisonous turnip which is widespread in the parish, the Selsnaepe, is said to have been sown by the Scots. And tradition tells us that on the fateful morning of 26th August, which was clear and promised heat, the Scots officers reviewed their men at Sel; and that Sinclair had burned some powder in the palm of his hand as an omen, and when the smoke was blown against his breast he said, "To-day I’ll lose some of my men; I don’t know whether many or few."

The Scots, of course, sent scouts in advance; at first with tracking hounds, which, however, had already all been killed but one. Early that morning the dog had been out hunting, and its barking had attracted the attention of an old man, who ran and fetched a steel bow with which he managed to shoot the hound. Its loss was fateful, for had it lived it might have given warning of the peasants who were lurking in waiting to surprise the Scots at the appointed place.

The peasants had sent one of their number, by name Audun Skjenna, to bring news of the approaching Scots, and he returned with the information that there was a troop of about sixty men a considerable distance in advance of the main body, which was long drawn out, as the track was rough and narrow. There were drums and bagpipes, to the music of which the Scots kept time as well as they could. Now and then they sang as they advanced, and it is said that when they heard some children screaming on the hills they called out, "Listen to the witch cats there!" They seemed to enjoy the fine day and the valley opening before them; and evidently they had no suspicion of danger.

The Scots scouts made their way forward with Per Klungnoens to guide them, but they saw nothing to alarm them. Thus the vanguard was allowed to pass into High Kringom and through Dokka and round the south bluff without hindrance; and then the moment for decisive action came.

In the broad Laugen, where the road passes between the two bluffs, there are half a dozen islets, two of them being a few hundred yards in length. On one of these was a peasant whose duty was to ride along parallel with the enemy and to turn sharply round when the Dokka was filled with Scots. Another peasant who was a good shot, Berdon Sejelstad, had agreed to hide behind a pile of stones on the river-bank and to fire a signal shot in order that those who could not see the horse might know when to begin the attack. Then on the opposite side of the river, from the summit of the steep hill Selsjordkamp there is a magnificent prospect, especially towards Sel, from which the Scots marched to their doom. A peasant girl called Gudrid was a specially clever priller, or performer on the cattle horn and ram’s horn, and she has come down to us in history as Prillar Guri. She made her way to the summit of Selsjordkamp, now known as Prillar Guri Peak, and it was her task to attract the attention of the oncoming Scots by her playing, and so prevent them from being too observant as they passed along.

As the main body of the Scots advanced they played a tune which is preserved in the valley and called the Sinklair Marsj. When it was ended they heard strange music from the summit of the peak right ahead on the other side of the river, and the melody is called Prillar Gun Slaat. The dalesmen play both the March and the Slaat at their local gatherings still. Prillar Gun’s object was completely attained. The Scots entered High Kringom still looking up at Gun and listening to her playing and quite unsuspicious of any danger. Captain Sinclair rode among his men in front, and when he reached the lowest point of Dokka the man on the white horse gave the signal for attack by turning quickly round; and immediately from behind the pile of stones on the river-brink Berdon Sejelstad, who had been lying in wait, fired, his bullet being a silver button, for he had heard that the Scots’ officers wore charms and neither lead nor steel could injure them. The bullet reached its billet in the heart of Sinclair, who sprang from his saddle and fell lifeless. Immediately the bluffs were blocked either by the tommervelte or by the men appointed for the duty, and the peasants in concealment above the path fired on the astonished and disordered Scots. The officers never had the chance of getting their men into any sort of order on that steep hillside. The unequal fight lasted for about an hour and a half. At the end of that time of the 500 Norsemen only 6 had been killed and a dozen wounded; but more than half of the Scots were slain, and 74 were captured, some of them after a brief escape by swimming across the river. The advance troop of 60 also was captured. The 134 captives were conveyed that evening to Klomstad in Kvam, a few miles distant, and there they were shut up for the night in the barn close by the present main road and called Skottelaaven (The Scots Barn).


The peasants were naturally overjoyed with their success and spent the night in feasting and drinking. In the morning came the necessity of determining what was to be done with the prisoners. If they had been fewer in number the problem would not have been so troublesome.

But Oslo was 200 miles away, and August was the busy month when men could not be spared to guard so large a band of prisoners; and provisions for so many would be difficult to procure. The peasants were still excited; and recently the rumour had reached them of the marauding of a similar troop of mercenaries that had been enlisted in the Netherlands by Jan van Monkhoven, a Flemish colonel in the Swedish service. He had sailed with 1200 men from Amsterdam, and at Stjordal, to the north of Trondheim, he had begun his march to Sweden. The peasants there gathered to the number of 1500, but they offered little resistance and did not follow the foreign force. These Dutch mercenaries were guilty of rapine and excesses that naturally bred resentment and horror wherever the story, probably much exaggerated, spread. This had happened only a month previously; and although the Scots, as we have seen, had been guilty of no excesses, and were willing to pay for anything they required, the dalesmen determined to kill the prisoners.

The Scots Barn at Klomstad is a two-storey timber building, made of heavy logs laid on each other, 30 by 15 feet. In that small prison 134 men were cooped up for the night, many of them being wounded. In the morning they were brought out two by two, placed against the end of the building and shot. It is said that the marks of some bullets can be seen still, but we saw none. A few of the prisoners were claimed as serfs by men who wanted them or were sorry for them; and fourteen were sent to Oslo along with the four surviving officers, Ramsay, Bruce, Moneypenny, and Scott. No mention is made of Captain Hay, and probably he fell, as well as Sinclair, in the attack at Kringom.

The peasants seem to have held Sinclair in special detestation, so they refused to give him Christian sepulture; and he was buried outside the churchyard of Kvam. The rest of the dead were buried in a common grave, a sort of tumulus, Skottehaugen (the Scots barrow). At a later period the Laugen encroached so much on its bank there as to threaten the church, which was thereupon taken down and removed about two miles to the north, where it stands surrounded by a crowded churchyard. But the only trace now of the churchyard of three hundred years ago is Skotshaugen close by the stone over the grave of Sinclair. It must be acknowledged that modern writers about the Scots Expedition do not seek to justify the shooting of the prisoners in cold blood, and would have greatly preferred if the men had been dealt with in some other less cruel fashion.

The eighteen prisoners, some of them wounded men, sent to Oslo were confined in Akershus Castle. The Viceroy, in sending on the officers to Copenhagen, reported that of the other prisoners some had agreed to enter the service of private folk and several had enlisted as soldiers, therefore to fight against the Swedes for whom they had originally been hired in Scotland.

Sir Robert Anstruther, the British Envoy to Denmark, exerted himself to the utmost on behalf of the four officers. On 26th October he sent to King James VI. a report of the ill-fated expedition, and said that Alexander Ramsay, Sir Henry Bruce, James Moneypenny, and James Scott had reached Copenhagen from Oslo. "After their coming hither a Council of War was called to have examined them and afterwards to have given judgment upon them." Eventually Ramsay and his fellow-officers were "sent home to their country" to be dealt with for their actions; and in course of time the main blame for the expedition was attributed to Colonel Andrew Ramsay. Finally, King James instructed Sir Robert Anstruther to inform the Danish King: "We have by our warrant under our hand banished him out of all our dominions which, next unto death, is the highest punishment we could inflict" (21st December 1612).


The distance from the Romsdalsfjord, where the Scots began their journey, to Kvam, where Sinclair is buried, by the route they traversed, is about 150 miles; and along that route there are memorials of the expedition and also Scots place-names here and there. Skotshammer (Scots Craig) is the name of the hill above the farm from which Per Klungnoes was taken to guide the Scots. On the summit there a tall pillar on a rude pedestal commemorates him and his part in misleading and guiding the expedition.

At Lesje, where the Scots were on the day Lars Hage at Dovre summoned the peasants to fight for their homes, there is a farm called Skotte where possibly one of the Scots who is known to have been left behind, suffering from some injury, and who was kindly treated by the people who discovered him, may have found a home and founded a family.

Then in Kringom the name Sinklair Dokka indicates where the Scots officer fell. On that spot there was originally one, and then another memorial of Sinclair; but in 1826 a fine soapstone monument was erected below Dokka, with the simple inscription, "In memory of the Peasants’ bravery, 1612." About the beginning of this century it had become much defaced by the carving of initials, and it had to be enclosed. Then, finally, at the tercentenary commemoration of the event, King Haakon, in the presence of a great multitude from all the parishes that sent contingents to Kringom, unveiled a new monument by the local sculptor, Kristen Holbö. It bears the inscription, "In memory of the fight at Kringom, 26th August 1612." On that monument there is a panel representing Prillar Gun blowing the horn. And immediately opposite on the summit of Selsjordkamp, now called Prillar Gun Peak, from which Gun played the Slaat as the Scots advanced, a monument in her honour has been set up, and can be seen from a great distance.

At Kvam there is Skottelaaven (the Scots Barn), where the prisoners spent their last night, and Skottehaugen, where over a hundred executed Scots were buried in one grave. Near by is Sinklairstötten (the Sinclair monument), a rough flagstone about 8 feet long and 7 feet high, with the inscription, "The leader of the Scots, George Sinclair, was buried here after he had fallen at Kringom on 26th August 1612."

Then in the neighbouring parish of Yaage there is a farm, called Skotlien (Scots brae), which thus got its name. One of the peasants engaged at Kringom was named Ingebret Valle. On the morning when the prisoners were being shot he claimed three of them, and brought them home with him. One of them served Valle for a time, then got his liberty, and cleared a piece of ground near the church. The clearing was then called Skotlien, as it still is. His descendants possessed the farm until about 1830, when they emigrated to America. Another of Valle’s protégés was a glassmaker. He remained at the farm for some time, and was then allowed to go home to Scotland. In gratitude to Ingebret, he sent a large pictorial window of coloured glass to Valle, where it was set up to the delight of the farmer and his friends. In 1885 the house was taken down, and the window was secured by Mr Thomas Michell, the British Consul-General in Oslo, who gifted it to the Embassy Church, St Edmund’s, where it can now be seen. The third of the Scots prisoners at Valle after a time left Vaage and went to Sel. The farm Skotte there, not far from Skotvandet (Scots Loch), was probably where he made his home.

Others of the prisoners who were saved and settled in the country have descendants who still claim connection with Scotland, although the names they bear may not be distinctively Scottish, e.g. Jacobsen, Matthiesen, Erlandsen.

Naturally many weapons and articles of various kinds were taken from the prisoners, or obtained on the scene of the fight, or recovered from the river. In the museums of Oslo, Bergen, Copenhagen, and especially in the wonderful Sandvik museum at Lillehammer and the armoury at Akershus Castle in Oslo, weapons from the Kringom fight are numerous. At one time most of the local farms had relics in the shape of powder-horns, daggers, broken weapons, and other articles, round which legends had gathered, but they have gradually been sold, or given away, or lost. Few of the weapons in the museums have distinctively Scots marks. A pistol and gun are associated with the name of Sinclair, and these are beautifully chased, whilst a money holster said to be his and a portion of a drum have an interest of their own. But that is nearly all.

The Danish government in due time rewarded the leaders of the peasants with gifts of lands, or freedom from assessments, or other marks of appreciation for their good work. It may be worth noting that although Prillar Gun got no recognition from the authorities, the peasants themselves bought the farm of Rindal, in Vaage, for her, changing the name to Prillarvik which it still retains.

That Scottish expedition has never been forgotten in Norway. It was quickly made the theme of ballad, song, and story, in which, of course, the peasants’ exploits were lauded to the skies. The fight at Kringom was in reality a great event for the Gudbrand Valley and for Norway. With justice, King Christian IV. praised the peasants, and rewarded the leaders. And when, in the following year, it was proposed that a territorial force should be organised, consisting of the tidal peasants and the tenants of the royal farms and properties, there was no opposition to reckon with at all. That was the beginning of the organisation that gives Norway to-day a force of men, well disciplined and trained to arms, drawn from every home in the land, and ready for any emergency.


It has only been deemed needful to authenticate the important statements by references to authorities. On most minor matters one or other of the authorities indicated has been the source of our information. In the volume Skottetoget by Colonel Angell, and especially in Mr Michell’s Scottish Expedition, the original commissions, letters, and reports are provided in English, Danish, or Latin, as the case may be.


In the old Gudbrandsdal dialect is found the first tradition of the episode, Dölevisen (the Dalesmen’s Lay). It dates from the middle of the seventeenth century. It is in rhyme, of course; much exaggerated, and very legendary and lengthy. A century later Edvard Storm published Sinklarvisen (the Sinclair Lay), which first made the Scottish expedition familiar to old and young in all Norway in the common tongue. It is a stirring ballad of many verses. Some of the verses are set to a lively tune, and this Sinclair song is frequently sung by the peasants at their merry-makings and on ceremonial occasions.

The Thirsty Sword
A Story of the Norse Invasion of Scotland (1262-1263) by Robert Leighton (1892) (pdf)

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