Happy New Year / Hyvää uutta vuotta, from us to you!

We in the Lapland’s Dark Heritage team are looking forward to more research, more cooperation with our colleagues and friends in Finland and beyond, and more dissemination of our results in 2017. We also have some new adventures to look forward to:

As noted already, #InariDig2 received a grant from the University of Helsinki’s Future Fund, meaning we can return to Lapland next summer for more public archaeology.

Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto recently received a personal grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation (Suomen Kulttuurirahasto), meaning that she can continue to do research related to the project, and will be based at the University of Jyväskylä, working with the rest of the Lapland’s Dark Heritage collective until October 2017.

We also had some wonderful news from Royal Society of Edinburgh. Both Suzie Thomas and our colleague Iain Banks of the University of Glasgow received Caledonian Research Fund/Royal Society of Edinburgh (CRF/RSE) European Visiting Research Fellowships for 2017. This means that Suzie will visit Scotland for two months to carry out research around community uses of the Cultybraggan former Prisoner of War Camp, basing herself at the University of Glasgow for that time. Shortly after her Fellowship ends, Iain will come to Finland for a further two months, so that he can once again participate in the excavations in Inari, carry out further field research and spend time at the Universities of Helsinki and Oulu.

We wish everyone all the very best for 2017, and look forward to updating you with more project news over the next year!

By Kolbkorr (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kolbkorr (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Merry Christmas: Public excavations for the summer 2017 funded! / Hauskaa joulua: Kesän 2017 yleisökaivauksille apuraha!

We received magnificent Christmas news: our 2017 public excavations got funded! We get to continue the public and community archaeological research together with the Sámi Museum Siida and all the volunteers from the local area and further away, with financial support from the University of Helsinki Future Fund!

We will arrange in 2017 two weeks long public excavations at Prisoner-of-War camps in Inari, inspired by the positive experiences and feedback from our 2016 field studies. Volunteers are again welcome to join in the excavations and related program, and to share their own experiences, opinions and everything else related to the World War 2 heritage.

We will update details about our upcoming studies in our blog page and through the University information channels after the New Years.

Merry and peaceful Christmas and happy New Year to everyone!!!

Christmas on front in 1942, Santa Claus has arrived (SA-Kuva).

Christmas on the front in 1942, Santa Claus has arrived (SA-Kuva).

Saimme vielä joulun alla ilouutisen, että vuoden 2017 yleisökaivauksiin anomamme apuraha on myönnetty! Pääsemme jatkamaan yleisö- ja yhteisöarkeologisia tutkimuksia yhdessä saamelaismuseo Siidan ja paikallisten sekä kauempaakin tulevien vapaaehtoisten ja kiinnostuneiden kanssa Helsingin yliopiston Tulevaisuusrahaston suosiollisella avustuksella!

Järjestämme loppukesästä 2017 kahden viikon mittaiset yleisökaivaukset Inarissa toisen maailmansodan vankileirikohteilla, vuoden 2016 tutkimuksista saatujen positiivisten kokemusten ja palautteen inspiroimina. Vapaaehtoiset ovat jälleen enemmän kuin tervetulleita osallistumaan kaivaustutkimuksiin ja kaivausten oheisohjelmaan, sekä jakamaan omia tärkeitä mielipiteitään, kokemuksiaan ja kaikkea muuta toisen maailmansodan kulttuuriperintöön jollain tavalla linkittyvää.

Ilmoitamme alkuvuodesta tarkempia tietoja tulevista tutkimuksista sekä blogissamme että yliopiston tiedotuskanavien kautta.

Hauskaa ja rauhallista joulua sekä uutta vuotta kaikille!!!


Talks this week in Helsinki from Lapland’s Dark Heritage

On Wednesday 14th December, Suzie Thomas is giving a talk as part of the University of the Arts’ KuvA Research Days / KuvAn Tutkimuspäivät at the Exhibition Laboratory, Merimiehenkatu 36, Helsinki.  She talks as part of the afternoon “Poetic Archeology” session, with a paper entitled “Archeologies of Conflict and Dark Heritages: Unpicking a painful past”. The full programme is available here as a pdf. All are welcome to this public event.

On Thursday 15th December, both Vesa-Pekka Herva and Oula Seitsonen are talking in different events. Herva gives a presentation in the afternoon at titled “Saksalaisen sotilassairaalan yhteisöarkeologiset tutkimukset Inarissa” (En: Community archaeological studies of a German military hospital in Inari), as part of the University of Helsinki’s archaeologykesalla-kentalla” fieldwork seminar day on Thursday at Porthania, Yliopistokatu 3, Helsinki (room PIII). The event is open to all.

Later the same day at 18:00-20:00, Oula Seitsonen gives a presentation at the public event “Arkeologia tutuksi” (En: Get to know archaeology) organised by the Archaeological Society of Finland, together with Timo Ylimaunu from the University of Oulu. Ylimaunu  is presenting “Modernin maailman arkeologia ja muistaminen” (En: Archaeology of modern world and remembering) and Seitsonen presents “#InariDig: Yleisö- ja yhteisöarkeologia modernin maailman monimerkityksisen kulttuuriperinnön käsittelyssä” (En: #InariDig: Public and community archaeology in dealing with the multifaceted heritage of the modern world), at Kirjasto 10, Elielinaukio 2G, Helsinki. Follow the link for the event flyer: modernin-maailman-arkeologiaa.

New publication from Koskinen-Koivisto and Thomas / Uusi julkaisu

Project researchers Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto and Suzie Thomas contributed a chapter to the new edited volume “Heritage in Action: Making the Past in the Present”, which was recently published by Springer, edited by Helaine Silverman, Emma Waterton and Steve Watson.

The book chapter, entitled “Lapland’s Dark Heritage: Responses to the Legacy of the World War II”, contributes to the wide and diverse volume which looks at different ways in which the idea of heritage is an active (and activist) phenomenon which is constantly on the move and changing.

The abstract for the chapter is:

“Dark” or “difficult” heritage is increasingly becoming of interest to researchers. How do different communities, whether in situ, online, or united by a particular hobby or interest, relate to aspects about the past that may be difficult or painful to reconcile? Do these encounters with difficult heritage lead to exploitation, indifference, destruction, or other even more diverse responses? This chapter focuses on communities in far northern Finland where different groups, both locally and more remotely, for example via online encounters, have chosen to engage (or not to engage) with the physical remains left by German activity in Lapland during World War II. These groups, including tourists, local residents, and hobbyist treasure hunters, respond differently to this “dark” heritage generated and in so doing generate their own connections and reconnections with the past.”

The book is dedicated to the memory of a much loved and respected colleague Professor Steve Watson, who sadly and unexpectedly passed away during the production of the volume.


Suzie’s and Eerika’s bookselfies.

Projektitutkijat Eerika Koskinen-Koiviston ja Suzie Thomasin kirjoittama artikkeli julkaistiin teoksessa “Heritage in Action: Making the Past in the Present”, jonka Springer juuri julkaisi. Teoksen toimittavat Helaine Silverman, Emma Waterton and Steve Watson.

Artikkelin nimi on “Lapland’s Dark Heritage: Responses to the Legacy of the World War II” ja se käsittelee sotahistoriaharrastajia sekä muuta aktiivista toimintaa sodan kulttuuriperinnön parissa Suomen Lapissa.  Laajassa  artikkelikokoelmassa kulttuuriperintöä  tarkastellaan dynaamisena ja muuntuvana ilmiönä, jonka kentällä toimii erilaisia aktivisteja ja instituutiota. Yllä artikkelin englanninkielinen abstrakti.

Teos on omistettu pidetyn ja kunnioitetun kollegamme professori Steve Watsonin muistolle. Kaikkien suruksi hän kuoli yllättäen kesken kirjaprojektin.


Dr. Iain Banks and the Mustikka Dreams

Dr. Iain Banks from Glasgow university attended the open excavation in Inari with us this summer. He already dazzled us with his knowledge (and his accent) in this video, and now he was kind enough to write us a piece about how he remembers experiencing Finnish Lapland.


Dr. Iain Banks, 2011

Mustikka Dreams

This summer, I found myself in a place that was both familiar and very strange to me.  I was standing in a forest in Lapland, far to the north of the Arctic Circle, with my field of vision cut down to a few feet by the density of the forest. The familiarity came from the vegetation and landforms. Lichens grew everywhere, and the ground cover was a mixture of mosses and berries. The trees were pines for as far as could be seen. This was so familiar to someone who has spent as much time as I have in the Highlands of Scotland.  We don’t have as rich an array of species of berry as Lapland, but the lichens thrive as well, the damp conditions keep the mosses as dominant as in Lapland, and I could almost believe myself to be in a forest at home.

There is also a similarity in terms of the human landscape.  While we don’t have reindeer herders, we have traces of the Second World War scattered across the Highlands.  We have training camps, PoW camps, and forestry camps slowly decaying into the landscape, disappearing under the mosses and lichens amidst the trees. I was in Lapland as part of the research project Lapland’s Dark Heritage, come to see Lapland’s PoW camps and participate in the excavations at Inari.  Further north than I had ever been before, in a country that I had never previously visited and whose language is a closed book to me, the combination of environment, archaeological material, and the warm welcome of colleagues made me feel completely at home.

During my time in Lapland, I learned a huge amount about the history of events, about which I’d previously had a hazy notion of plucky Finns holding back the Russians in the North. In particular, I’d never heard about the burning of Lapland.  I was able to share my experience as a field archaeologist in helping the volunteers to learn the basics of excavation, and to share some of my research into PoW camps further south in a public lecture.

We excavated elements of a hospital site just outside the town of Inari, working with a group of Finnish volunteers, and forming a truly international group of English, Scottish, Brazilian, and Finnish academics probing the heritage and impact of the war in Lapland.  Still smarting from the Brexit vote, it was heartening to work with my European colleagues and plan future collaborations that will endure whatever the politicians decide.  A small taste of that came with the recent visit of Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto to the University of Glasgow, and we hope to expand links between Glasgow, Helsinki, and Oulu in the coming years.  Lapland’s Dark Heritage is a tremendous project, and I have really enjoyed being involved in it; I will be returning for as long as the project will have me.

I started by talking about the familiar; the biggest difference was night time. We have long hours of summer daylight and short winter days, but it is less extreme than in Lapland. Standing on the edge of Lake Solojärvi at 2 am photographing the mist on the surface of the water was an experience I will always remember.  I have travelled far and wide across the world, but Lapland has been one of the best experiences I have had.


Lake Solojärvi. Taken by Dr. Iain Banks in the summer of 2016.

Archaeology Days of the Archaeological Society of Finland 10-11.11.2016

Suzie Thomas and Oula Seitsonen will be presenting our research at the Archaeology Days of Archaeological Society of Finland on 10-11.11.2016 at the University of Helsinki’s Lammi Research Station. They take part in the session “Memories of the past / Memories in the past” with a presentation “#InariDig: Using public archaeology to engage with difficult history” discussing our public excavations in Inari last summer and related wider issues.


Their abstract says: The legacy of the Second World War is an aspect of heritage that continues to have an impact across the world; in Finland this is no different. Our research project “Lapland’s Dark Heritage” addresses the ways in which local communities and individuals come to terms with the material remains of the Second World War still present in Finnish Lapland, in a multidisciplinary manner. One of the many approaches has been the use of archaeological investigation as a means of also engaging the public. In this presentation we outline the approaches we used in what has come to be known as “#InariDig”, the impact that this work appears to have had, and our plans for the next steps in our research.



“Materialities of the Pressing Past” seminar in Copenhagen

Oula Seitsonen is taking part in a “Dialogues with the Past” seminar “Materialities of the Pressing Past: Challenges in post-medieval archaeology and the archaeology of the recent past” in Copenhagen this week. As described, “[T]his seminar aims to explore the landscape of archaeological research as it transgresses conventional frameworks for a discrete ‘past’ and turns towards archaeology as the study of things, events and processes that are of archaeological relevance”. Oula will present a paper “Haunting and haunted reminders of the past: Special deposits and features at German-run WWII PoW camps in Finnish Lapland”, dealing with some of the unexpected finds and features with apparent relations to the northern rural beliefs in magic and spiritualities.

Tivoli in Copenhagen (Photo: Oula Seitsonen).

Tivoli in Copenhagen (Photo: Oula Seitsonen).

Researcher Suzie Thomas participating in a Difficult Memories workshop on 4th November

Project Researcher Dr Suzie Thomas is giving a presentation at the upcoming workshop “Difficult Memories – Key Terms” hosted by the University of Helsinki on Friday 4th November, 2016. The event is part of the international ERA-NET research scheme “LivingMemories”, which connects researchers across six different countries.

Interior of the University of Helsinki's Main Building. Image by Näystin under CC BY-SA 2.0.

f Interior of the University of Helsinki’s Main Building. Image by Näystin, available under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Suzie will give a presentation titled ‘Difficult Memories in Finland’s far north: “Dark Heritage” and the legacy of the Lapland War’. The abstract is as follows: Official national narratives and personal recollections of times of conflict are frequently at odds. Uncomfortable truths can become silenced, whilst more seemingly “glorious” events become celebrated. Like most of Europe, Finland was drawn into the Second World War, for various reasons becoming a co-belligerent with Nazi Germany for much of the conflict. Until late 1944, some 200,000 German soldiers were stationed in Finland, many in Finnish Lapland. Reports suggest that interactions between locals and Germans were largely amicable. It was not until the 1944-45 so-called Lapland War (resulting from a treaty agreement between Finland and the Soviet Union to expel the Germans), that town and infrastructure destruction occurred due to the German army’s scorched earth tactics as they retreated into Norway. The combination of this violent end to Finnish-German cooperation, and subsequent embarrassment at having sided with the Nazis, have arguably led to the downplaying of the significance of the Lapland War in the national interpretation of Finland in the Second World War. At the same time locally, there is continued interest in this period; expressed through local hobbyist activity and even museum exhibitions. In this paper I briefly introduce the historical background to our case study, and then introduce some of the ways in which this difficult heritage has been silenced or highlighted – depending on the circumstances. I debate whether it is correct to suggest that this period and place has a “dark heritage” at all, and consider the impact of our own research activities on the local communities.

Suzie with a Snow Dog in the North East of England.

Suzie with a Snow Dog in the North East of England.

Followers on Twitter should look out for the project hashtag #LivingMemo, and for the seminar itself also look for @helsinkiuni, #research and #keyterms.

Project researcher Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto visits the Centre for Battlefield and Conflict Archaeology, University of Glasgow

gla As part of the mobility programme of the project, researcher Dr. Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto visited the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, University of Glasgow last week. She gave a talk at the war history seminar of the Scottish Centre for War Studies. The title of her presentation was “Responses to Lapland’s Dark Heritage – Public Archaeology of the WWII in Finnish Lapland”. In her talk Koskinen-Koivisto discussed the engagements and responses of local communities and history hobbyists to the concept of dark heritage and the ethical questions and responsibilities related to the difficult and ambivalent heritage of the WWII in Finnish Lapland. In addition to the public talk, Dr. Koskinen-Koivisto spoke also to the MLitt students of battlefield archaeology about doing public archaeology.

The Centre for Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow was established in April 2006. The Centre is the first facility of its kind and has earned a reputation as an international center of excellence for the study of the archaeology of battlefields and other archaeological manifestations of human conflict. Founding member of the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology, Dr. Iain Banks participated in the public excavations in Inari in August.



“Current topics in archaeology at the University of Helsinki” workshop this week / “Ajankohtaista arkeologiassa Helsingin yliopistossa” -työpaja tällä viikolla

“Current topics in archaeology at the University of Helsinki” is a two day workshop presenting this week some of the hottest stuff going on at the moment in archaeology in Helsinki, including, naturally, Lapland’s Dark Heritage. Oula Seitsonen is presenting on Monday “Taming evil landscapes: Special features from WWII Prisoner-of-War camps in Finnish Lapland”, discussing some of the more peculiar finds spotted during our field research, and on Wednesday together with Sanna Seitsonen “Burnt bones by Europe’s largest lake: Zooarchaeology of the Stone Age and Early Metal Period hunter-gatherers at Lake Ladoga, NW Russia” discussing prehistoric faunal remains from the Lake Ladoga area.


Mystery sneaker / Salaperäinen tossu (Photograph: O. Seitsonen).

“Ajankohtaista arkeologiassa Helsingin yliopistossa” on tällä viikolla järjestettävä kaksipäiväinen työpaja. Työpajassa esitellään muutamia Helsingin arkeologiassa käynnissä olevia mielenkiintoisimpia tutkimusteemoja, joihin luonnollisesti kuuluu myös Lapin synkkä kulttuuriperintö. Oula Seitsonen käsittelee maanantaina esitelmässään “Taming evil landscapes: Special features from WWII Prisoner-of-War camps in Finnish Lapland” joitakin erikoisempia sotakohteilta kesinä vastaantulleita löytöjä, ja keskiviikkona yhdessä Sanna Seitsosen kanssa Laatokan alueelta tehtyjä kivi- ja varhaismetallikautisia luulöytöjä esitelmässä “Burnt bones by Europe’s largest lake: Zooarchaeology of the Stone Age and Early Metal Period hunter-gatherers at Lake Ladoga, NW Russia”.