Translation into English by
Norman Henderson


 Web: Geir Neverdal (lektor/cand.philol) - Sel Historical Society


Myths and Legends?


Background - The Battle - Myths?Significance - Objects - Literature - Scotland - Programme2012


“The bloody end to The Scottish March at Kringen is one
of the occurrences in older Norwegian military history most
shrouded in mystery and myth”.
(“Defence from Leidang to total defence” by Ersland, Bjørlo, Eriksen and Moland).




Contents of this page:


What does Krag write about Pillarguri?
What do others write about Pillarguri?
Pillarguri or Prillarguri?
Lur or horn?
Was Pillarguri a historical person?
The tales about “The Mermaid” and weather calves
The timber avalanche

Berlin 1998
Kjell Fjerdingren
Lady Sinclair
What happened to the surviving Scots?
The Scot in Gjerstad
The Scot who was saved by Ingebrigt Valde



  It is difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction when dealing with information handed down by word of mouth. (Snorre, for example, based his works for the most part on verbally transmitted
information, and much of what we read there today we accept as being a factual description).

Today we can - with our knowledge - see that some of what is told must be fiction. On other occasions there can be a factual basis for what is told.
It is particularly difficult when what is being recounted happened at a time when few contemporary written sources existed.

The tale of Pillarguri and her role in the battle at Kringen has nevertheless made a strong impression on a great many people - and she is one of the few characters in Norwegian history known to large
groups of the population, and with whom they can identify. She also became one of several symbolic figures at the time of the dissolution of the Union with Sweden in 1905.

It was not by chance that 83 emigrants from Gudbrandsdalen in 1906 - one year after Norway became a Sovereign state - gathered in Minneapolis to found a Society, the main objective being to collect funds for a new monument at Kringen. The symbol chosen was naturally Pillarguri.

Nor was it by chance that it was King Haakon VII who unveiled this Monument at the 300th. Anniversary in Kringen in 1912. The Prime Minister was also present.

The symbolic value has been - and is - considerable.


  Angell writes:  

There was a girl in the village called Gudrid. She was such an accomplished player of the lure and buckhorn (bukkehorn) that she was given the name Prillar-Gudrid. She has been much spoken of after that day and has become etched in everyone’s memory”.


The farmer at Storøya was not the only one who was to give the signal. To be certain that everybody knew the exact moment at which to act, that everyone in the woods should be able to see the signal clearly, a signal from Seljordkampen (Pillarguritoppen - author’s note) should be made. Prillar-Gudrid should hang a white cloth - some mean a length of white woven wool material - over the sheer cliffside. As the Scots advanced she would allow this woven wool material to unroll showing the farmers how far the Scots had come. The longer the piece of material, the closer the Scots were. When she saw the farmer on the white horse turn back quickly, she should let the cloth fall. - Everybody should be able to see that signal; nobody could hold back then.

(It is also said that she had the cloth wound round her arm and she should shorten it as the Scots marched forward).

It was a double signal; a modern form of “semaphore” if you will. Brilliantly thought out.

Pillarguritoppen seen from a little north of Kringen.


Many are also of the opinion that Prillar-Gudrid should give the signal by playing a tune of her own or a folk tune on the lure. In most people’s minds this seems to be the case....

The image of the girl stood up there in the minds of the dalesmen for a very long time - as she will continue to do in the minds of all Norwegians in times to come.

But Prillar-Gudrid had another task besides giving signals. The leaders were afraid that the Scots should find out about the ambush - because then the battle would in all probability be lost.


There are a number of stories about individuals who took part in the Battle of Kringen and they should be mentioned. First of all there is Prillar-Gudrid (Pillarguri). She blew her lure for a long time during the Battle, but when she saw that the river Laagen became coloured red with blood she threw away her lure, lay down and wept. (Angell pp.64)

  What does Krag write about Pillarguri?  
  (Coming later)
  What do others write about Pillarguri?  
  (Coming later)    
  Pillarguri or Prillarguri?  
  Krag, the Vågå parson, who himself lived in the district and collected the local tales, writes in his book from 1838 about “Pillar- Guri”:


".. with a blind Attack, thereby taking his Attention away from the place, where the real Farmers' army lay. Furthermore they let a Girl, with the Name Guri, commonly called
Pillar-Guri, who could blow a Stut or Horn well, *) take up position on a Mountain Peak, Selsjordskampen, on the west Side of the Laagen, from where she could clearly see the surrounding landscape and the ..."


Krag, 1838, page 35


Andreas Faye
who, apart from his periods abroad, lived all his life in Drammen, Christiania and on Sørlandet mentions in his book from 1833 (according to genealogist Lars Løberg):

“...both the girl and the farmer on the horse in his publication of Norwegian Legends in 1833. He says here that the legend about “Ragnhild or Prellegunhild, (Lure, Prellehorn) has been told to me
verbally. The legend about the man on the white Horse ... in the same way, verbally."

In other words he calls her “Ragnhild” or “Prellegunhild”.

Magnus B. Landstad (1802-1880)

- uses the name Prillar-Guri.
It is possible that his poem was written in connection with the 250th. Anniversary in 1862, but we know little about this.

Ragnhild Glad as Pillarguri in 1962
(Thanks go to Bjørn Glad who gave us the photo)


Krag is the one who, in the 1830s, came closest to the source of this
information - and in local tradition she was called

  Lur or horn?    
  (Coming later)  
  Was Pillarguri a historic person?  
  According to local tales she was.
She occupies a strong position in the verbal tales which Krag refers to in his writings of 1838 - and in the account of The Scottish March she occupies a place as part of the diversionary strategy decided
upon before the battle.
Doubt is raised from other quarters, also because she is not mentioned in Storm’s Zinklarvisen - but neither are
Randklev, Hågå or Sejelstad.

Storm also mentions only farmers from “Vaage, Lessø and Lom” in his folksong - those who came from the South, Fron and Ringebu, and who played a major role at Kringen, are not mentioned either.
Zinklarvisen definitely does not contain a detailed description of what happened at Kringen.

  According to local tradition Pillarguri was born and grew up at Kruke in Heidal

Pål Glad Kruke, who owns the farm today, has given us the photo shown below.
You may read more about Kruke and its history here: .


Kruke in Heidal

  (More about this later)


  The following is clear:  

The tale about Pillarguri and her role in the battle at Kringen has made a strong impression on a great many people - and she is one of the few characters in Norwegian history known to large groups of the population and with whom they can identify.
She also became one of the symbolic figures around the time of the dissolution of the Union with Sweden in 1905.
  The tales of Havfruen” (“The Mermaid”) and
veirkalvene” (“weathercalves”)


Imagination has been allowed to run riot here.

  The timber avalanche  


(Coming later)

  Berlin 1998

- An exhibition portraying European historical events to which a great degree of myth is attached. The exhibition was arranged by Deutsches Historisches Museum.


When Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin planned the arrangement of this exhibition, Georg Strømdal’s painting from Kringen was chosen to represent Norway.

The Museum considered the following episodes from Norwegian history, as well as Kringen:

Leiv Erikson’s discovery of America
The Battle of Stiklestad in 1030
The Battle of Stanford Bridge (England) in 1066 and
The National Assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814

Jon Selfors currently takes care of the painting for future generations. It is part of The Scottish March Collection at Kvam in

A letter from Dr. Monica Flacke in Berlin (GD June-97) states that, in addition to Strømdal’s large Kringen painting, the exhibition would also display other items illustrating the fight
between the farmers and the Scottish mercenary soldiers, e.g. illustrations, folk literature, song books, postcards, coins and medals.

Georg Strømdals (1856-1914) maleri fra 1897



According to the same newspaper-cutting from GD, the then “forbundskansler Helmut Kohl, was the Museum’s and exhibition’s Patron”.

After the exhibition the museum in Berlin requested permission to publish a reproduction of the painting on their new Internet pages.
(The Internet was a relatively new medium in 1998)


(Letter from)
Deutsches Historisches Museum ...

Dear Mr Selfors;

The German Historical Museum has recently acquired the capacity to publish via the Internet, including our recent exhibition,

Myths of Nations. A European Panorama.

In this form it is possible to get both a detailed and a broad overview of the exhibition. I was thinking of only publishing the most
(sic) works and the general introduction.
Therefore, I would like to include the following painting in our internet catalogue:
Georg Nilsen Strømdal: Slaget ved Kringen
(the Battle of Kringen).
I would like to ask you to give me permission
to reproduce the image over the internet.
The replications would be scanned from the exhibition catalogue.

Thanks very much in advance for all your help.

Yours sincerely,

i.A. Claudia Wenhardt

Dr. Monica Flacke
Exhibition Management

Click to get a larger version of the letter.

  Text taken from the Berlin museum’s Internet page (English version):    

The Battle of Kringen, 1612

"The Battle of Kringen in 1612 was basically an episode of little consequence during the Kalmar War (1611-1613) between Denmark and Sweden. Norway, which was a province of Denmark, was drawn into the war when the Danish king, Christian IV, demanded that the Norwegians supply an army of 8,000 peasants. Mass desertions began as soon as the troops began to assemble. The reason the peasants deserted, according to 19th century historians, was their love of freedom and attachment to their native land, which they placed above their loyalty to the crown. It was not until an army of some 900
(the correct number was 300-350)  Scottish farm labourers serving for the Swedish king landed on the Norwegian coast on their way to Sweden that the Norwegians took up arms and defeated the invaders near Kringen in the Gudbrandsdal valley.

The memory of this victory – and thus of their contribution to the Danish triumph over the Swedes – enhanced the Norwegians' national pride in the 19th century. An important part of this tradition is the idealisation of the Norwegian peasants, their courage, their cleverness in fighting and above all their love of freedom. Hand in hand with this image was the glorification of the Norwegian mountains as the home of an intensely freedom-loving, proud and daring people. So the pictures of the event are as much a monument to the mountainous landscape as they are to the battle itself ..."

  Kjell Fjerdingren    
  (Coming later)  
  Lady Sinclair    
  (Coming later)  
  Man on the horse (Storøya)    
  (Coming later)  
  What happened to the surviving Scots?  
  Governor Kruse writes a little in his report about the 18 Scots who were brought to Akershus (Castle). He sends the three most distinguished (the officers) to Copenhagen.  

“ with regard to the remaining 15, some of them immediately took work with the good people here (in Norway) and some who as volunteers, will enter the service of the King in Jøgenn Lungis’ regiment, I sent immediately to Elfsborg
(somewhat freely translated from Governor
Kruse’s report to the Danish Chancellor).

Photo of the report - Krag’s copy-->

  There is however a large number of stories about Scots who survived - and who, for shorter or longer periods, remained in Gudbrandsdalen and other places in Norway.
It is claimed that several of them were the originators of new family trees surviving in Norway today.
If these accounts are to be accorded credibility (?), there were several survivors from this confrontation.

The Scot at Gjerstad

Gjerstad historielag (Gjerstad Historical Society) will in the Spring (2006) erect a monument at the grave of a Scottish mercenary soldier, according to NRK-Sørlandet.

“The soldier came to Gjerstad after fleeing from the historic battle at Kringen in Gudbrandsdalen in 1612.

This is the battle which created the story about Pillarguri.
The soldier’s grave in Gjerstad has been unknown to most people.

But the Historical Society wants to have a fitting monument to Sinclair’s soldiers, says Olav Vevstad in Gjerstad Historical Society”.
NRK Sørlandet

Gjerstad kommune is close to Risør ->


“The soldier who was killed in Digerdal was one of two who came to Telemark after the majority of the soldiers under the command of the Scots Captain Sinclair had been killed by farmers in Gudbrandsdalen in 1612. ...

While the one soldier fell in love with a girl from Bø, the other wanted to return to Scotland.
He made his way towards a port in Sørlandet, but never reached there.
He was found dead in the snow in Digerdal. He was buried in Digerdal and the grave marked with a round stone at each end.

For those who wish to visit the grave, the way is marked from the main road to Digerdal”.
(Thanks go to Gjerstad Historical Society for the loan of the photograph and text.)

From the unveiling of the commemorative tablet in
August 2006. In co-operation with Statskog, Gjerstad Historical Society has ensured proper marking
of the old grave.

  The Scot who was saved by Ingebrigt Valde

Krag writes (p.28):

“The saga tells that One of the surviving Scots, when he saw the Rifle pointed at him, ran to Ingebrigt Valde from Vaage*) and with Beseeching Gestures, begged for his Life and Rescue and sought Shelter under his Horse, whereupon Ingebrigt raised his Axe in his Protection with the Threat that he would cut down whoever killed him. This Scot was reportedly a Master glass worker and later settled in
the Country and to Prove his Gratitude sent several Windows to Ingebrigt Valde, whom in his Letters he always referred to as his “Lifefather”. Of these same Windows, one is still shown on Valde, in
which some decorations with etched work on a Rough Shape, which represents a Shield, on which can be seen a Mark like a Signet (perhaps Ingebrigt Valde’s) and an Angel which seems to hold its hands in a protective manner over it”.
*) Hjorthøy calls him Ingebrikt Sørvold; in Grams Mandtal (Grams Census) neither this name or Ingebrikt Valdes is to be found, on the other hand the tenant farmers Oluff and Knud Valde are both named.

Glassmaleri fra Valle i Vågå. Ble sist på 1800-tallet flyttet til St Edmund's Church i Kristiania.

Thanks go to Ivar Teigum for the loan of the photograph

  Where he settled is not known, but the window is to be found today in St. Edmund’s Church in Oslo. It was brought there from Valle in the late 1800s (Teigum2, p.116)  
  The farm Skottelien in Vågå

This farm was reportedly “first cleared by one of the remaining Scots and thereafter given the name Skottelien” (Lassen p.16)

  The farm Skotte in Sel

“Called this because it was cleared by one of the Scottish prisoners who stayed (in the country)” (Lassen p.18)

  (More about this later)  

Background - The Battle - Myths?Significance - Objects - Literature - Scotland - Programme2012


Skottetogsidene ble lagt ut på nettet 12. november 2010.            Denne siden ble sist oppdatert: 08. april 2012

Web: Geir Neverdal (lektor/cand.philol) - Sel Historielag