Karolinerspelet i Tydal

The "Karolinerspelet i Tydal" is an outdoor theatrical performance, which takes place at the Brekka open-air museum on the second weekend in January every second year. The inaugural performance took place in 1993, then under the title of "Karolinernes hærtog i Tydal".

The performance is based on the Swedish Lieutenant General Carl Gustav Armfeldt's unsuccessful attempt to take Trondheim in the autumn of 1718. The retreat to Sweden went via Tydal, and 5000 starving soldiers arrived here on New Year's Eve in 1718. While here, they robbed clothes and food and forced women and men to accompany them as guides. Around 3000 soldiers lost their lives while crossing the mountain to Sweden.

The theatrical performance involves 120 actors and 20 horses. Many refer to this as "extreme theatre". The "Karolinerspelet i Tydal " is a unique experience, an experience that provides warmth during the cold of winter.

The History of the Caroleans

Sweden as a superpower

In the 18th century Sweden was a superpower. King Carl XII was on the throne and after the Battle of Poltava in 1709 Sweden had a need to gain new land. In the spring of 1718 King Carl XII gathered the Carolean Army. The aim was to invade and conquer Norway.

The main force of 40,000 men, commanded by the king himself, was based in Southern Norway. Another division of 10,000 men was to attack Trondheim from Jemtland. Lieutenant General Carl Gustav Armfeldt was appointed to command this army and take Trondheim. The campaign started in Duved and numbered more than 10,000 men and 6700 horses. They entered Norway at Stene bastion and the Norwegian armed forces were outnumbered and the bastion was conquered without major loss.

Unsuccessful attempt to take Trondheim

The army continued its march southwards, but difficult terrain and roads in poor condition made the march difficult and it was delayed. After more than a month of difficulties, the army arrived in Trondheim. As a result of poor roads the artillery was left behind along the road leaving few opportunities to take the fortress of Kristiansten and Trondheim city. There was a long waiting period, and illness and hunger ravaged soldiers on both sides.

The death of the king

In mid-December rumours began to abound that King Carl XII had been shot at the fortress of Fredriksten on November 30. Armfeldt, who in all likelihood had not received official notification of the king's death, retreats southwards towards Haltdalen with his army.

The march of death starts

On Christmas Eve the poorly dressed soldiers gathered at Haltdalen stave church to celebrate Christmas. The retreat continues over Mount Bukkhammeren, where they encountered a snowstorm and at least 200 men died in the rough weather before they reach Tydal. On arrival in Tydal they claimed clothes, food and fuel. On New Year's Eve they started the fateful retreat over the mountains towards Handöl. It was bitterly cold and the soldiers were in a poor state of health and poorly equipped. Armfeldt took women in Tydal as hostages to press local farmers to show them the best route over the mountain.

Catastrophe a factor

The army had barely reached the snow-covered mountain when a fierce storm erupted. The storm claimed the lives of increasingly more soldiers. There was nowhere to shelter, no wood and no skis. The storm lasted and the soldiers became separated from each other on the mountain. After three days the first soldiers arrived at Handöl. Many died there too. More than 600 soldiers are buried in a mass grave, where a plaque has now been erected. A total of 3700 men died during the campaign, 3000 of them up on the mountain. Armfeldt's campaign against Trøndelag hit the region hard, with the civilian population and military alike suffering major losses. "War is loss on both sides."

The Carolean Way

The Carolean Way is now an established hiking trail leading from Haltdalen in Norway to Handöl in Sweden. By completing this historic journey on foot or ski you can follow in the Caroleans' footsteps over the mountain and gain an insight into the mountain area where this tragedy took place. You may cover the complete route or divide it up into shorter legs, depending on your level of interest and the time you have available.

The Carolean Way starts in Haltdalen and leads up to Nordpå. Accommodation and meals are available here by prior arrangement. A fine passage over Mount Bukkhammaren awaits you, and the view is magnificent. The path continues down past the small mountain lake Nauttjønna and Hyllingsvollen to Gressli (19 km), where you will find several accommodation options.

From here, you may walk along the main road (route 705) to the Tydal Museum, which features the Carolean exhibition, or catch the bus. In the Ås area, you will find services and facilities including accommodation, restaurants and shops. Continue past Ås and up to Østby and "Gohaugen". The path restarts here and leads through beautiful forest and over marshland. Take a break beside the small mountain lake Hærtjønna before the hike continues up the mountain. The Carolean Way later meets the access road to Sankåvika. From Sankåvika the path leads up to Storerikvollen. There is a staffed lodge here during the season and a self-service cabin in the off-season. There is an historic mountain farm and great views of Sylan and the lake Esandsjøen. The path continues up the mountain and passes the river Enan. Later the path passes the mountain lodges of Blåhammaren and Storulvån, which offer accommodation and meals during the summer season. From here, you may continue on to Handöl, where you will find the Carolean Museum at Hanris Café.

The Carolean Way leads through a variety of terrain, including forests, mountain areas and some marshland. Necessary mountain equipment is required in some places. Hiking boots are recommended, as is the detailed mountain map of the area; Sylan 1:100 000. Start and finish points are Haltdalen, Tydal and Storulvån/Handöl, which you may reach by road, bus or train.


Visitors to Sylan and Tydal will find opportunities for dining, accommodation, transport and activities. Contact the Tydal Tourist Information Office for relevant information on phone +47 73 81 59 00 or the Stugudal Tourist Information Office on +47 73 81 55 12 or visit
www.sylan.no or www.705.no

Tydal Museum

The museum is located in the cultural area of Brekka/Kistafoss by Aune near Tydal. Tydal Museum has status as the Carolean Centre, and by visiting the museum you can experience an exhibition that depicts the Carolean Army's retreat over the Tydal Mountains in late 1718/early 1719. The exhibition illustrates the tragedy in the form of equipment including swords, cannon balls, maps and uniforms. Everything is explained in easily read and interesting texts. The Carolean exhibition is popular among both Norwegian and international visitors. The museum is open to visitors during the summer season or at other times of the year by prior arrangement. Guided tours are also available on request.

Contact details:

E-mail: post@karolinerspelet.no
Producer: Mathias Johnsen, tel: (47) 920 85 987