Henry Sinclair

Peter Hylton

This spring, I have been hiking bits of the John O’Groats trail, which extends from Inverness to John O-Groats at the northernmost tip of mainland Scotland. One of the things I have seen along the way is this statue of Henry Sinclair.

He is of the lineage of the St.Clair/Sinclair clan. Rosslyn Chapel, the most interesting Masonic site in Scotland, has been protected by the family for centuries, preserving some amazing stone carvings with masonic significance. The northern arm of the family was based near where we live in Scotland, and Sinclair Castle, shown here, is one of the most spectacular sites along our coast.

There are several interesting things about old Henry. First off, legend has it that he was a Knight Templar, and had strong masonic connections, as did many of the St.Clair men. The emblem he carried on his shield could support this Templar connection, as seen in the photo. The other interesting bit is that many historians are convinced that North America was discovered by the Norse, long before Columbus sailed that direction. There is evidence to indicate that Norse sailors landed in Greenland and along the Canadian coast as far south as Nova Scotia, just after 1400. Now here is the interesting bit, during the late 1300s and early 1400s, when Henry represented the northern Sinclair clan, he was also Earl of Orkney – and in those days the Orkney Islands still belonged to Norway. Local legend says that it was Henry Sinclair, who led the expedition, on behalf of the King of Norway (to whom he was related on his maternal side). And that he landed in Greenland, becoming the first European to set foot in North America. This theory is supported by carvings, among the many plants and flowers in the stonework of Rosslyn Chapel, which look distinctly like North American plants that do not grow in Europe. The chapel was built by Henry’s grandson William, in 1486. Columbus, you recall, did not sail west until 1492. Perhaps right here in Caithness, not far from where I live, is the source of the first journey to the new world, leading to the discovery of America, by a Freemason and Knight Templar.


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