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22.8.2019 klo 13:49 Luupin viestintä

Student´s experiences in Kierikki

For the month of July 2019 we visited Kierikki as a group of 11 English students, along with our supervisor, on a work placement from Grampus Heritage and Training.

Over the course of the month we picked up many different skills, from a different method of excavation, to knife skills and chopping wood (something many of us had never done before). We spent our time in rotation between three jobs: construction, excavation and experimental archaeology. Alongside this we explored some of Finland’s magnificent forests, experienced Oulu and ventured to Lapland to visit Father Christmas himself!

Flying into Oulu airport in the early hours of the morning, excited and a little nervous for the month ahead, we got our first glance at the expanse of Finnish forestry. Upon landing, any nerves we had were washed away as we met Leena, who runs the Kierikki centre. Herself and one of the other members of staff from the centre, Taina, were extremely welcoming and as we drove to our accommodation we caught a close up glimpse of the beautiful Finnish countryside. I had never seen so many trees in my life, It was truly breathtaking.

Our first day at the site was full of friendly introductions to the staff at Kierikki and as the month progressed we came to know them well. As a group we were mostly strangers, all coming from different universities, however we got along instantly and promptly settled into a routine. We were excited for the month ahead and quickly began work.

Over on construction we were tasked with rebuilding a fox trap and deer trap from the ‘Trap Trail’ at the centre. We collected, debarked and chopped the wood necessary for the construction of the traps; learning new skills during the process, such as how to use an axe, which many of us had never done before. We also learnt new skills over at the excavation as Sami, the supervisor of the site, along with the students from the University of Oulu, showed us how excavation is undertaken in Finland. For some of us it was our first excavation, whereas others in the group had taken part in archaeological digs before. Despite this, it was a really enjoyable dig and it was exciting to find pieces of napped quartz and other artefacts from Neolithic times! One of the best things about the excavation at Kierikki is that the public can get involved and it was great to see such a significant example of public engagement in archaeology. We really found the excavation to be an interesting experience and loved getting to know some of the wonderful staff and students at the site.

During our days on experimental archaeology we undertook a vast array of projects, both independently and as a group. Experimental archaeology is a way to test or replicate different activities and processes which may have been used by ancient cultures, and learn more about life in the past through doing so. As a group we wove fish baskets, made pottery and cordage as well as learning important skills such as how to use a knife and build a fire. We made our pots using clay from the river, and our baskets from willow collected around the site, just as neolithic people would have. Alongside these group projects, we each undertook a personal project and were set loose to investigate processes from the past with the help of our supervisor, Peter Groom. Personal projects included elk hide processing to make a harpoon, drum and material suitable for clothing. Others in the group made bows and arrows, with one member of the group making his with traditional stone tools. A spear thrower and axe were also created, as well as a seal blubber processing pit. We also took the chance to dress up in the leathers at the site, going about our tasks dressed as those in Neolithic times may have, it was a lot of fun! This wide array of projects allowed us to better understand how those from the past lived and survived, giving us a chance to explore and appreciate different elements of the past. Many of our projects can now be seen in the Stone Age Village at the Kierikki Centre.

On our days off we still spent some time at the site, carrying on with our projects or talking to the staff whilst we made stone necklaces. We also explored some of the Finnish outdoors, going for long walks and finding some of the most stunning views across lakes. Others in the group took their hand at fishing, and on a few nights we were treated to the fish they had caught! We also swam in the lake near our hostel and took full advantage of the sauna, which again many of us had never experienced. It has to be said, it is something we truly miss back in the UK. We also visited the city of Oulu, trying smoked reindeer pancakes and spotting the Fat Policeman statue at the market. Back at the hostel it was also nice to relax, play pool and have movie nights in the evening.

On one of our weekends off we ventured on an excursion to Lapland. This trip was amazing, not only did we get the chance to visit the Arctic Circle to see Father Christmas, but we visited local artists, Ranua Zoo, Oulanka National Park with its beautiful waterfall, the Arktikum Arctic Museum, and trekked through a bog to see the Hossa Värikallio Rock Paintings, it was worth it! We also got to see some Finnish wildlife, spotting red squirrels, an elk and more reindeer than we could count!

All of these wonderful experiences combined made this trip a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that made us fall in love with Finland, we didn’t want to leave! We would like to thank all of the staff at Kierikki, our hosts at the hostel and everyone else who was kind enough to make this trip truly incredible.

Text and pictures: Rosie Goodman

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