Ancient dwelling and trapping sites found in Finland’s Arctic

The origin and uses of Taatsin Seita remain shrouded in mystery. Image: Taisto Karjalainen / Metsähallitus
The origin and uses of Taatsin Seita remain shrouded in mystery. Image: Taisto Karjalainen / Metsähallitus

This summer’s discoveries indicate that there was long-term dwelling and sophisticated trapping near a standing stone in the municipality of Kittilä in Finland’s Arctic Lapland region.

An inventory of cultural-history sites in Kittilä, Lapland, this summer has turned up signs of ancient livelihoods. The survey is being carried out on lands controlled by the forest management agency Metsähallitus.

Many previously-unknown ancient dwelling sites have been discovered in Metsähallitus forestry tracts in northern Kittilä.

Parts of hearths have been found near a standing stone known as Taatsin Seita in the village of Pokka, which is believed to have been a sacrificial site.

The sections of central fireplaces have been dated to between 600 and 1600 AD. Other finds include foundations of turf tepees known as kotas and dwellings that indicate there was long-term residence in the area extending from the Stone Age to the historical era.

Complex system of snares

Traces of the locals’ livelihood have been found, including a number of dugout trap systems, the largest of which may include more than 50 snare pits.

Taisto Karjalainen of Metsähallitus says these are some of the most extensive trapping systems ever found in Finland. This procedure to catch game required an organised community, careful planning, division of labour and a relatively large number of hunters, Karjalainen says.

Taatsin Seita, a megalith which stands on the shores of Taatsijärvi, has been considered a sacred site by Lapland’s indigenous Sámi people.

Karjalainen says it is difficult to say how long the stone has been standing there, or anything about its early history. Archaeological digs at the foot of the megalith uncovered bones ranging in age from 900 to just 80 years old.

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