Traces in the landscape
There are more than 3,000 known ancient and cultural remains in Laponia. The oldest are almost 10,000 years old. More than half the ancient remains are hearths, fireplaces – that is to say, traces of goahte tents and settlements.
If you start to take a closer look around you in the landscape you will find traces of people who have been here before us:
A ring of stones is probably a hearth. It has been home to people for a short while. They are almost always close to streams, whose water was used in cooking, and on dry hills and ridges. Sometimes nature is reclaiming it and you only see the stones appearing through twigs and grass.
If you see a number of slightly larger pits in a row on the ground it can be an ancient trapping system. Trapping pits are strategically placed where reindeer or moose passed.
As long as 6,000 years ago they were already being used to trap wild reindeer. The method was probably to drive the animals towards the pits having first built barriers of bushes to steer the animals towards the concealed pits. Trapping pits were in use for thousands of years, but the hunting method was banned in Sweden in 1864.
A pine with good bark
Many of the older pines bear traces of bark stripping. Rectangular marks along the trunk are a sign that the bark has been stripped and used in food. There are many bark stripping sites in the Laponia forests, above all near old trails and dwelling sites where people have always moved about. Bark was mostly taken in early summer when the sap is rising in the trees. The inner bark is then of the best quality and is easiest to take. In the Lule Sámi dialect, June is in fact called Biehtsemánno – pine month.
An old reindeer pasture
You can find enclosed reindeer pastures in the mountains. They also found in the forests but there they are more difficult to detect. A reindeer pasture is a place where the vegetation differs from the surroundings due to reindeer foraging and trampling. If you see a verdant patch in the middle of a swathe of osiers, it is probably a reindeer pasture.
In summer and autumn, the animals were rounded up daily in pastures where the cows were milked. Every family group kept a small herd which they constantly followed year round. Today the reindeer pastures are becoming overgrown since reindeer herding is no longer carried on in that way.
A cultural landscape
If there were no reindeer foraging, neither would certain plants exist here.