Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki
Bronze Age Burial Site Of Sammallahdenmäki
Cultural Finland Europe And North America Region Of Satakunta, Province Of Western Finland

The Sammallahdenmäki cairn cemetery bears exceptional witness to the society, and especially the funerary practices, of the Bronze Age of Scandinavia. The Scandinavian Bronze Age culture, 1500-500 BC, included the coastal zone of continental Finland and the land archipelago. Bronze is extensively represented in its material culture, although neither copper nor tin is to be found in the area, the metals being largely acquired through trade and exchange. The value of the objects is enhanced by their association with burials and religious sites, such as cairns and other types of grave.

Stone burial cairns constructed of boulders, without earth fill, over cists of stone or wood, were erected on cliffs with a view on the sea all along the coast of Finland;more than 3,000 have been identified. They contained both cremation and inhumation burials of members of the community with all the associated funerary objects (grave goods).

The site is associated with Sun worship rituals, a cult that spread from Scandinavia over the entire region. It is also a manifestation of land ownership by kinship groups, a practice introduced with agriculture. At the time the hill of Sammallahdenmäki was completely bare of trees and was probably chosen for its unimpeded view of the sea and its openness to the Sun in all directions. The settlement of the people buried here has not yet been identified.

The Sammallahdenmäki cemetery includes 33 burial cairns and is the largest and best cairn site in all Finland;of the cairns, 28 can be securely dated to the early Bronze Age. They lie along the crest and upper slopes of a 700 m long ridge, and are disposed in several distinct clusters. The structures were built using granite boulders that were quarried from the cliff face below the crest of the ridge or collected from the site itself. Some are also built from drystone masonry. They can be classified into several different groups according to their shapes and sizes: small low round cairns, large mound-like cairns, and round walled cairns. They enclose cists made from stone slabs.

The site also contains two unusual structures. One is oval and elongated and seems to have been enlarged in three successive stages. It contains only charcoal, no bones of any sort having ever been found. The other is a large quadrangular cairn, known as the Church Floor (Kirkonlaatia ), which is unique in Finland and extremely rare in Scandinavia. Its surface is flat, it has no outer wall, and the layers of stones are thinner towards the centre. Excavations revealed an internal structure in the centre made from stone flags. It is still difficult to determine whether this structure is linked with religious ceremonies or whether it is a tomb. None of the Sammallahdenmäki cairns have produced any bronze implements. Their layout and location indicates that these cairns most probably belong to the early Bronze Age.

The degree of authenticity of the site is very high. The cairns are built from granite, which does not erode easily. The surroundings have remained untouched and the cairns themselves have been subject to very little disturbance. The remote location of the site has protected it from development, and the local population has taken pride in protecting it.