Logotyp för Laponia

8000 years

Foto: Carl-Johan Utsi

The Laponia World Heritage Site is a cultural landscape dating back thousands of years, with many traces of past users. In the area, people have left both tangible and intangible traces in the landscape, in the form of place names, stories, knowledge and physical remains. The oldest known traces of humans in Laponia are 8000 years old and are found along the large mountain lakes. The term ‘wilderness’ is misleading because the landscape is anything but desolate; people have been living in Laponia since the ice sheet left its grip some 8,000-10,000 years ago. The traces of ancient people are usually subtle, but it is still possible to find traces of prehistoric and historic times in the forests and mountains of Laponia today. In addition to remains of settlements from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages, there are also trapping pits, hearths, cairns, reindeer enclosures, bone caches and storage pits.

It is not always a coincidence to find traces in nature near, or right next to, modern settlements and facilities. People who have lived by and with nature have also had to find the most suitable places for settlement in relation to water and food availability. Other aspects to consider have been to follow the animals’ migration routes and relatively accessible routes.

The traces of former users are classified as either an ancient or a cultural heritage site. Ancient monuments, known and unknown, are traces of human activity and are protected by the Cultural Heritage Act. It is prohibited by law to damage or disturb a fixed ancient monument and ancient monument area, without special permission. Cultural remains are younger remains of human activity, from the Stone Age to the present, which are protected by the Forestry Act. Showing respect for ancient and cultural heritage also shows respect for the work and efforts of previous generations.