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Letter to "The Highlander" Magazine - George Sinclair and his Scottish Mercenaries

Especially for Sally and Donald in Indianapolis who both sent me the
article, but for anyone who has read the article in this month's magazine,
here is the Clan and Sinclair's Club letter to the magazine in respect of
the article.

Yours aye


"We read with interest William McPeak's article in the current
(September/October 2001) edition of "The Highlander".  It may interest your
readers to know that Clan Sinclair is actively engaged in the annual
Pillarguri Days in Otta, Sel Kommune, in Gudbrandsdalen - the town closest
to where the battle took place and not Kvam.  We, with Niven Sinclair, took
part in the Festival in 1999, last year it was Donald and Mary Sinclair and
the Lairds, (Donald is Clan Commissioner for California) and we were there
again this year.  The Pillarguri Committee and Sinclair's Club run the
festival commemorating the battle, and we have a website at
www.sinclairsclub.net, where there are pictures of the events of 1612, an
account of the battle and pictures and video clips of festival events and
the surrounding area covering the last three years.

In 1999, Niven Sinclair presented the Wilkinson "Millennium Sword " on which
the word "Peace" is inscribed in over two hundred languages, to our
Norwegian friends , and during this year's ceremony it was symbolically
re-presented, by the Chief, to a lady dressed in local costume ("bunad"),
which incorporates a red tartan which is worn with pride and said to have
come from one of the Scots. This helps to strengthen the deep friendship
that now exists between our related communities.  We are both members of
Sinclair's Club by invitation of the committee, along with Chris Maile, a
piper with the Oslo Caledonian Pipe Band who was instrumental in bringing us

You will also find references to 1612 and the Pillarguri Days on
http://sinclair.quarterman.org/history/mid/battleofkringom.html which Mr
McPeak may have drawn upon and
http://www.clansinclairusa.org/ev_cru_kringen.htm#Kringen , both US based
Clan Sinclair sites.  Our site www.iain-laird.co.uk also points to our
strong connections with Norway

We might add that Colonel Sinclair was not the leader of the Scots force in
1612.  That was, in fact, Colonel Alexander Ramsay, also mentioned in the
article, whose Swedish second-in-command was Jacob Mannepenge, who survived
with Henry Bruce some others of his officers, a total of 18 by most
accounts.  William McPeak seems to have had access to sources other than
those familiar to us.  We would point out that the best researched book is
"Ringen om Kringen" by Committee Member Syver Bakken, unfortunately still
only available in Norwegian and 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, though this is
based on oral tradition and so has a lot of 17th Century propaganda mixed
with the facts. Some accounts indicate that the Scots party divided into two
after landing in Norway with one group heading east whilst the remainder
went to Kringen.

Mr McPeak has poor Guri (later known as Pillarguri) doing too much, though,
as it was one of the local farmers who went out to the islet of Storoy, in
the Lågen River on his horse, out of range of the Scots who kept pace with
the column and tradition has it that he sat backwards on his horse, as
represented by the badge of Sinclair's Club to distract them from the ambush
preparations.  Guri, who by some accounts was a later addition to the story,
was set on top of the Seljordskampen hill.

Our research shows that George Sinclair was from Stirkoke, and possibly the
natural son of the Master of Caithness but, in any case, related to the then
Earl, otherwise very little else is known about him.  It does appear that
the expedition sailed to Norway against the wishes of the establishment who
tried to prevent it.  Henry Sinclair was more than just a "feudal earl" in
1379.  He was the premier Jarl of Norway running Orkney and Shetland for the
Norwegian King and his grandson William was, in 1449, the senior contender
for the vacant Norwegian throne.

The combination of pipes and drums and Hardanger fiddle, kilt and tartan
bunad, akevitt and whisky and the warm hospitality of the 21st century
Gudbrandsdölers should encourage those of Scots descent to put the last
weekend in August in their diaries and keep checking www.SinclairsClub.net
for details.

Yours aye

Rt Hon The Earl of Caithness, Chief of Clan Sinclair
Iain Laird
on behalf of Clan Sinclair and Sinclair's Club of Otta"

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