Execution by Høgkleiva

On 1 April 1763, the remains of a child was found hidden under the stairs of Ringebu Stave Church. Sigrid Gulbrandsdotter Brandstadkampen was soon detained and remanded in custody at Vestad. She confessed that the child was hers, but never admitted to taking its life.

The man who had fathered the child was Guldbrand Engebretsen Brandstad – a soldier and farmer. When Sigrid fell pregnant, he made her hide her condition and gave her a substance to induce miscarriage. He threatened to kill himself if anyone was told about the child or that he was the father. The problem was that Guldbrand was married to another woman.

 

The trial

Sigrid was alone when she gave birth, and she later told the court that she was very confused and unable to tell if the child was alive or not. She wrapped it up, and Guldbrand helped her hide the corpse where it was later discovered. 

During the trial, Guldbrand denied everything. However, there were people in the village who were aware of the circumstances and who were willing to testify for Sigrid. In the end, he had to admit to fathering the child, to the threats, and to his later actions. Despite this, Sigrid has to take sole responsibility, and no mitigating circumstances were considered during her sentencing.

Court records

An appeal was made to the courts and to the king (Frederik V) in Copenhagen, but to no avail. Sigrid was beheaded in summer of 1764. Her head was put on a pole, and she was buried at the execution site. This was prevent her being laid to rest in consecrated soil.

The beheading took place on the crag along The King’s Road. Executions were public events, and were carried out along what was then the main road.

Thanks to those helping to preserve Høgkleiva!

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Ringebu Stave Church

Tel. +47 61 28 43 50
E-mail kirkeverge@stavechurch.no

Ringebu Rectory

Tel.+47 976 87 950 (General Manager)
Tel.+47 940 19 747 (guides & administration)

E-mail post@ringebuprestegard.no

 

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