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  The Battle of Kringen, 26th August 1612  
 Books About the Event Cultural Evening 2012 Media Coverage 2012
Online Sources About this Page

Georg Nielsen Strømdal: The Battle of Kringen

In 1612 a force it is now thought of some 300* Scots (the initial Norwegian Report said 550 Scots were defeated by 450 Militia, but by the 1789 Norwegian accounts had inflated the Scots number to 900) arrived in Gudbrandsdalen under the command of acting Lieutenant Colonel (substantive Captain, later Major) Alexander Ramsay ¹  with a company of 100 from the south of Scotland, a company of 100 Caithness men led by Captain George Sinclair ² of Stirkoke (for many years George Sinclair was thought to be the leader and Ramsay was forgotten) and another company of 100 men led by Captain George Hay  ³.  George Sinclair was a captain in Samuel Cockburn's regiment in Sweden 1610-12, and had recruited for James Spens for the Swedish Army 1611-12.  He was allegedly accused of forcibly taking children and servants onto the transport ships. Alexander Ramsay recruited with Robert Kerr and Captain George Hay ³ (also of Samuel Cockburn's regiment), and had sailed from Dundee with his company. They were simply passing through the valley intent on reaching Sweden, which was then at war with Norway and Denmark over the territory of Kalmar in the south of Scandinavia.  Their passage through Norway had been peaceful ¤ since their landing at the Isfjorden on the coast of Romsdal and Møre, and they could not have anticipated what awaited

Adolph Tidemand / Morten Müller: Sinclairs landing i Romsdal, painted 1976
them at Kringen.  They did not know that young men conscripted from the valley had been massacred in the Kalmar conflict, and that the farmers from Gudbrandsdalen were determined to resist them.  Plans had been laid for an ambush, and the ambush was to be triggered by local girl, Guri, who was to watch the column as it made its slow passage along the old King’s road. 

Photo courtesy of Per-2-Peer
The 1912 Memorial with the carving of Pillarguri at the battle site

To further distract the Scots from the ambush preparations, tradition adds that a man rode sitting backwards on his horse.  Once the right moment arrived, Guri, watching from the mountain top above Otta blew a blast on her lur, a long wooden horn, or perhaps a buckhorn, traditional to the area.  Local tales have it that the ambush started with logs and rocks crashing down on the Scots from the steep mountainside and blocking the road preventing advance or withdrawal, and Norwegian folklore records that  George Sinclair was felled with a silver bullet from a single musket shot fired by Berdon Sejelstad.  450 farmers fell on the Scots with their axes and scythes and fierce hand-to-hand conflict ensued that left the river running red with blood.  

Weapons in the Gudbrandsalen War Museum at Kvam 

Photo courtesy of Jon Selfors, Verthuset Sinclair, Kvam
The 1789 Marker of  Oberst "Colonel" Sinclair's Grave and Battle details:
Here under rests
Colonel Georg Sinkler
Fallen at Kringlen in the Year 1612 with the number
of  900 Scots who were crushed like clay pots by the smaller number of 300 farmers from Læsjö, Waage, Froen. The farmers' leader was Berdon Sejelstad from Ringeboe, Sogn"

After one and a half hours, only 134 Scots remained alive though it is thought some escaped.  The farmers lost 6 men.  It is thought that the Scots had only a few weapons between them, expecting to be armed when they reached Sweden. 

”Slaget ved Kringen (1612).” – tekst på illustrasjon av A.Bloch (1860-1917). Illustrasjonen er nr. 57 i ein biletserie i faget historie til bruk i folkeskulen (grunnskulen).

George Sinclair's Grave at Kvam, Chris Maile

The survivors were taken prisoner and led off to Kvam, and were to be taken to the Akershus Fortress in Oslo to await their fate, but the farmers had their harvest to think of, and again, tradition has it, they began to execute the prisoners.  Certainly only 18, were taken to Oslo and forced into Danish-Norwegian service.  Four of the officers, Alexander Ramsay , James Scott, unofficially recruited in Scotland  4, Captain Henry Bruce 5 and Lieutenant James Monneypenny 6, a translator, previously in Danish-Norwegian service, were sent to Copenhagen where they were taken in by the British Ambassador to the court of Christian IV, Sir Robert Anstruther 7, who returned them home after a summary interrogation. Captain Hay is not listed among the surviving officers and is thought to have been killed at Kringen. Ensign John Bowie 8 was released on 31st December 1612. There were certainly many survivors, and there is tradition of the local “Skotte” (Scots) farms being cleared by one such survivor.  We have recently learned of a survivor who escaped from the Akershus Fortress and made his way to Sweden, where his descendants still live. In Gudbrandsdalen today, the local costume “bunad” incorporates a Tartan that is reminiscent of the Red Sinclair.  

Bunad                         Red Sinclair


“Ringen om Kringen” by Syver Bakken, 1999

The Massacre of the Scots at Kringen, 26th August 1612, based on accounts gathered in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley by Hans Petter Schnitler Krag, Pastor of the Parish of Vågå, 1820-1845, Per Holst 2001

Herr Sinclair dro over salten hav : skottetoget og kampene ved Kringen 1612 (George Sinclair who crossed the Salty Sea: Scottish March and Battle at Kringen 1612) by Rolf Rach-Engh

University of St Andrews Institute of Historical Research
The Scotland, Scandinavia and Northern European Biographical Database (SSNE)

(Requires Registration, log in and then the links below will open)

Record ID: 230 Alexander Ramsay

Record ID: 4233 Captain George Sinclair

³ Record ID: 4236 Captain George Hay

4 Record ID: 7274 James Scott

5 Record ID: 241 Captain (or Lieutenant) Henry Bruce

6 Record ID: 245 Lieutenant James Monneypenney

7 Record ID: 1472 Sir Robert Anstruther

8 Record ID: 242  Ensign John Bowie

* p 43 History of the Scottish Expedition to Norway in 1612 by Thomas Michell, 1886 (Ambassador to Denmark-Norway, Sir Robert Anstruther reported 300) (see below)
¤ p 185 of same Historical Document, 2nd Official Report to the Danish Chancellor: "We have also since ascertained that those Scots who were defeated and captured on their march through this country have absolutely neither burned, murdered, nor destroyed on their march through this country, either in Romsdalen or Gudbrandsdalen" Only the theft of a box of valuables from one man was reported.
† p121 of same.

p 201 - 203 History of the Norwegian People by Knut Gjerset, Vol II, 1915 (see below)

Books on Kringen

Syver Bakken’s book “Ringen om Kringen”, published 1999, in Norwegian, is the best recent authority on the Battle and its origins and aftermath.  It is only now available in local libraries.

Ringen-om-Kringen.jpg (24992 bytes)

In May 2001 Per A Holst re-published  "The Massacre of the Scots at Kringen, 26th August 1612, based on accounts gathered in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley by Hans Petter Schnitler Krag, Pastor of the Parish of Vågå, 1820-1845" first published in 1838.  This is a rather uncomfortable read based on the oral tradition that had built up in the valley and is an alternative version of events with some interesting illustrations.  It is available from Otta Libris, Johan Nygaardsgt. 17 B, , Tel: +47 61 23 00 14

Pastor_Krag.jpg (26635 bytes) Read a Review of Pastor Krag's Account

Swords for Hire by James Miller ISBN 9781841584461 published 2007 by Birlinn Limited

Scottish Military Disasters by Paul Cowan includes Massacre in Norway, Kringen 1612 ISBN 978-1-903238-96-7 published 2008 by Neil Wilson Publishing
Kindle Edition


Myths and Legends?  Pillarguri?

2012 marks the 400th Anniversary of the Battle of Kringen Norman Henderson has been translating material which points to the historical reality of the girl now known as "Pillarguri"...more

Forsiden - Sel kommune

The opening of the 1912 Package in 2012

Cultural Evening Ottahallen, Kulturhuset, Oslo 24th August 2012
To see a replay of the live stream (watched by 1 million people worldwide) of the Ottahallen Kulturhuset programme of 24th August 2012  go to:
let the advert run and the menu then appears below, click on:

Edvard Storm's "Zinclar Vise" ("Sinclairs Song"), Mari Midtli from Sel

Presenters: Mariann Sæter, Whitewater Kayaker, and Inge Solheim, Arctic Expedition Leader

"In the spirit of peaceful co-existence and cultural exchange, and international friendship especially between Scotland and Norway"

Culture Secretary Kjersti Stenseng

John F Peterson, USA Gudbrandsdal Association (Gudbrandsdalslaget)

Rt Hon The Earl of Caithness PC

Sarah-Jane Summers and Chris Maile


Otta Museum Directors Kjell Voldheim and Torveig Dahl and  Mayor Dag-Erik Pryhn opening the Package

Hardanger Fiddle

Lur and
Buckhorn (bukkehorn)

The Prizegiving to Pillarguri Prizewinner Princess Astrid

Palace Dancers from Oslo

Pipes and Drums


Conclusion: Scotland the Brave and Amazing Grace from Massed Pipes and Drums, Oslo Caledonian Pipe Band, Bergen Pipe Band and Wick RBLS Pipe Band and Orchestra

Media Coverage 2012

Scots invasion of Norway that ended in a ‘war crime’ by Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday (The Scotsman)

The Day Scotland Invaded Norway by Jim McBeth The Scottish Daily Mail

Photostream from Gudbrandsølen Dagningen GD.no

Dette inneholdt "Otta-pakka" | gd.no The Contents of the Otta Packet

Town Set to Open Mysterious Century-Old Package | NBC Chicago

Det mystiska paketet öppnas - efter 100 år | Nyheter | Aftonbladet

Fox News: Town in Norway ready to open 100-year-old mysterious package

'To be opened in 2012': The secret of mysterious parcel wrapped in 1912 is unveiled in Norwegian town | Mail Online

Sealed for 99 years and 363 days - so what was inside the mysterious parcel left to a small town in Norway? - Europe - World - The Independent

Online Sources

"The Scottish March of 1612" and The Battle of Kringen (Norwegian and English)

The Scottish Expedition in Norway IX 1612 by the Rev John Beveridge  MBE BD FSA Scot

Scottish Military Disasters - Massacre in Norway - Kringen 1612


Norske Rigs-Registranter - Maihaugen including pictures of weapons

Otta: Minne um slage i Kringom 26. august 1612 - selhistorie.no Pictures from 1912

VGSkole: Slage i Kringom - 1612 Norwegian School Notes with Pictures

Om Skotterferda 1612 - Sogn og Fjordane - Norwegian with pictures

Slaget ved Kringen - et 400-årsminne - Arkivverket Norwegian, original reports from 1612, translations at Appendices of Michell's book

History of the Scottish Expedition to Norway in 1612 by Thomas Michell, 1886

History of the Norwegian People by Knut Gjerset, Vol II, 1915

The Saint-Clairs of the Isles: The Kringelen Ambush

Daughters of Norway: Prillar Guri

The Battle of Kringen, 1612

CSAC Massacre of the Scots at Kringen

Gudbrandsdalslaget Home Page (USA Association)

Auld Rasmie: The Battle of Kringen

Oddveig Rösegg Memorial Lecture: Dr Sally Garden "From Firth to Fjord - tracing Scotland's Music on Scandinavian Shores"

Mons Graupius News

University of Aberdeen: Centre for Scandinavian Studies

The Norwegian Scottish Association "Ditt og Datt" (This and That)

(Unfortunately Eddie Ramsay's site which had information about Alexander Ramsay http://www.clanramsay.info/ is now offline, see also Clan Ramsay - Wikipedia)

Sinclair Discussion (requires membership)

Pictures from Clan Sinclair visit to Norway 2012

About this Page

We first went to Otta in 1999.  The Silver Badge on the left, representing the horseman riding backwards at Kringen, was kindly awarded to me by the Pillarguri Committee in 2000 when I became a Member of Sinclair's Club.  This page and the attached review of Per Holst's edition of Pastor Krag's Account were originally posted on the Sinclair's Club website, which I had created and maintained, as the history page.  The website went offline in 2005 when www.ecosse.net ceased the service.  Archived pages can still be seen on the Internet WaybackMachine


The late Pillarguri Committee and Sinclair's Club Member, Hans Kristian Børud, Eldbjørg Larsen, fellow Committee and Club Member, Inge Leif Larsen, Rakel Dyrhaug and Ragnar Moe; Hans Kristian carrying the Chief's Banner at the Clan Sinclair Gathering, Caithness 2002; Chris Maile and Inge Leif at the New Kringen Memorial in 2004, all originally on the Sinclair's Club Website.

© Iain Laird 2012