On our way north to Lapland, we stopped to visit the site of Sammallahdenmäki, the location of several dozen granite, bronze age burial cairns dating back 3,000 years. The cairns themselves, large piles of rocks, were somewhat underwhelming, but standing there looking at the grave constructions of people living three millennia ago was certainly exciting.
The drive to this UNESCO World Heritage Site was beautiful (of course….I think I only saw one or two spots in Finland that weren’t absolutely lovely). The forest in which the cairns were located seemed to be clinging to a thin layer of soil over massive granite formations. The tall, dark evergreens and delicate mosses and other low flora gave the whole area the atmosphere of a Grimm’s fairy tale. Ok, I’ll admit….every forest in Finland reminded me of fairy tales, but this one was particularly evocative of dark folk legends (as opposed to the more H.C. Andersen friendly ferns covered forest floors in the Helsinki suburb where I stayed for most of my visit).
A few of these cairns have been excavated by archeologists, who found lots of clues about the people living in this area circa 1500-500 B.C. (fyi, the National Museum of Finland has an amazing exhibit thoroughly covering the history of Finland from pre-historic times onward). In addition to the round cairns, there is the Kirkonlaattia (“Church Floor”), an unusual flat, rectangular cairn about 16 x 19 metres that resembles the floor of a large hall (a very erie sight) as well as Huilun pitkä raunio (“long ruin of Huilu”).
[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. Click here for more pictures of Finland.]