Iron Age

History of Finland between 500 BC - 1149

The Iron Age in Finland is considered to last from c.500 BC until c.1150 AD when the Swedish Conquest of Finland was complete and written history in Finland (the Middle Ages) begins. There is no evidence of any form of writing in Finland, runes or otherwise, prior to the Swedish Conquest and all evidence regarding Finnish history prior to Swedish involvement is based on archaeological findings and the scant records of contemporaneous third parties. The three main dialectal groups of Finnish-speakers, (proper-)Finns, Tavastians and Karelians probably emerged during the Iron Age. The archaeological culture of the Åland Islands had a more prominent Swedish character than the rest of the country, possibly suggesting Scandinavian settlement.

The earliest findings of imported iron blades and local iron working appear in 500 BC. From about 50 AD, there are indications of a more intense long-distance exchange of goods in coastal Finland. Inhabitants exchanged their products, presumably, mostly furs, for weapons and ornaments with the Balts and the Scandinavians as well as with the peoples along the traditional eastern trade routes. The existence of richly furnished burials, usually with weapons, suggests that there was a chiefly elite in southern and western parts of the country. Hillforts spread over most of southern Finland at the end of the Iron and early Medieval Age. There is no commonly accepted evidence of early state formations in Finland, and the presumedly Iron Age origins of urbanisation are contested.

In the early Iron Age a word similar to Finns appeared for the first time in a written document when Tacitus mentions Fenni in his Germania. However, it is unclear if these have anything to do with the present Finnish people. The first Scandinavian documents mentioning a "land of the Finns" are two runestones: (Söderby, Sweden, with the inscription finlont (U 582 †), Gotland with the inscription finlandi (G 319 M) dating from the 11th century.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 500 BC and 1149 in Finland

Lieto Old Castle

There has been a fortified hill in Lieto (“Liedon Vanhalinna”) from the prehistoric age. According to excavations, the castle has been in use in the Late Bronze Age (1500-500 BC), in Middle Iron Age (500-700 AD, contested) and in the Middle Ages up to the end of the 14th century, when it was replaced by the "new castle" in Turku harbour.During the first crusade (ca. 1155) to Finland Swedish army fought heavy b ...
Founded: ca. 1000-1370 | Location: Lieto, Finland

Rikalanmäki

Rikalanmäki was one of the most remarkable Bronze and Iron Age towns in Finland. According legends, It was a very wealthy trading centre. The heyday of Rikalanmäki was in 11th and 12th centuries when Vikings and foreign merchants exchanged metals and weapons to fur from inner Finland. There are evidences of indirect trade connections even to the Arabic countries. According the legend Birger Jarl landed to the Ri ...
Founded: ca. 900-1100 AD | Location: Salo, Finland

Luistari Burial Ground

Luistari site is the largest Iron Age burial ground in Finland. There has been a place of residence already in the Bronze Age, but the remains have been destroyed later when the burial ground was built.Archaeologists have investigated over 1300 adults and children graves from the Luistari site. Based on excavations burials were made between years 500 AD-1200 AD. Archaeologists have found several remains of clothing, jewel ...
Founded: 500 - 1200 | Location: Eura, Finland

Sulkava Hill Fort

The hill fort is located to the rock hill with high cliffs in Pisamalahti. The hill fort rises about 55 meters above Enovesi lake.First record of the fort dates back to the year 1561, but it was probably built in the Iron or Middle Ages. According one hypothesis it was built by Carelian people against conquerors from Tavastia (Häme) historical province. There is a 120 meters long and 2-3 meters high stone wall on the ...
Founded: 1100-1300 | Location: Sulkava, Finland

Borgboda Hillfort

Borgboda (also called Borgberget), located in Borge hill, Saltvik, is the largest hillfort in Åland with an area of total three hectares. When it was in use, around 1000 AD, the hill was surrounded by water on three sides. Steep hill was enforced with walls of stone and timber, remains of which can still be seen, along with remains of a few buildings. It is believed that Borgboda was never permanently inhabited, but ...
Founded: Viking age | Location: Saltvik, Finland

Levänluhta

Levänluhta is a swampy source known for mysterious prehistoric findings. According archaeological excavations about hundred people have been buried to the former lake of Levänluhta in the Iron Age. Archaeologists have also found several remains of bronze and silver jewelry and tools.There are remains of buried children, elderly and animals of different ages. The human bones of Levänluhta are dated to the 30 ...
Founded: 300-700 B.C. | Location: Storkyro, Finland

Päijälä Hill Fort

Päijälä hill fort is an Iron Age hill fort by the Lake Saaresjärvi in Kuhmoinen. The abundance of artefacts found at the Päijälä hill fort makes it nationally significant. The fort is thought to have been used since at least the 12th century. Kuhmoinen was then a borderland between Häme and Carelian tribes who fought over the ownership of wilderness areas. The fort hill rises 25 me ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kuhmoinen, Finland

Nabbergen Cairns

The cairn graveyard in Nabbergen has some 80 establishments, spread over a ca 300 x 200 m big area. The establishments can be dated to about the birth of Christ. Walk from the village of Käringsund toward Hummelvik Camping and then walk along Hummelviksstigen, past the camp site, and you will see a sign that says “Rösegravfält” in the third curve.
Founded: 0 CE | Location: Eckerö, Finland

Päivääniemi Burial Ground

Päivääniemi in Lempäälä is an Iron Age burial ground consisting of around 130 small mounds. The ground was in use from 300 to 1000 AD, but most of findings date from 600-800 AD. The largest is so-called Kuninkaanhauta (King"s Grave) where has been buried a local chief. The fine sword was founded from the grave in excavations.
Founded: 300 AD | Location: Lempäälä, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle de Haar

Castle de Haar is the largest and most fairytale-like castle in the Netherlands. The current buildings, all built upon the original castle, date from 1892 and are the work of Dutch architect P.J.H. Cuypers, in a Neo-Gothic restoration project funded by the Rothschild family.

The oldest historical record of a building at the location of the current castle dates to 1391. In that year, the family De Haar received the castle and the surrounding lands as fiefdom from Hendrik van Woerden. The castle remained in the ownership of the De Haar family until 1440, when the last male heir died childless. The castle then passed to the Van Zuylen family. In 1482, the castle was burned down and the walls were torn down, except for the parts that did not have a military function. These parts probably were incorporated into the castle when it was rebuilt during the early 16th century. The castle is mentioned in an inventory of the possessions of Steven van Zuylen from 1506, and again in a list of fiefdoms in the province Utrecht from 1536. The oldest image of the castle dates to 1554 and shows that the castle had been largely rebuilt by then. After 1641, when Johan van Zuylen van der Haar died childless, the castle seems to have gradually fallen into ruins. The castle escaped from total destruction by the French during the Rampjaar 1672.

In 1801 the last catholic van Zuylen in the Netherlands, the bachelor Anton-Martinus van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1708-1801) bequeathed the property to his cousin Jean-Jacques van Zuylen van Nyevelt (1752-1846) of the catholic branch in the Southern Netherlands. In 1890, De Haar was inherited by Jean-Jacques' grandson Etienne Gustave Frédéric Baron van Zuylen van Nyevelt van de Haar (1860-1934), who married Baroness Hélène de Rothschild. They contracted architect Pierre Cuypers in 1892 to rebuild the ruinous castle, which took 15 years.

In 1887, the inheritor of the castle-ruins, Etienne van Zuylen van Nijevelt, married Hélène de Rothschild, of theRothschild family. Fully financed by Hélène's family, the Rothschilds, the couple set about rebuilding the castle from its ruins. For the restoration of the castle, the famous architect Pierre Cuypers was hired. He would be working on this project for 20 years (from 1892 to 1912). The castle has 200 rooms and 30 bathrooms, of which only a small number on the ground floor have been opened to be viewed by the public. In the hall, Cuypers has placed a statue with his own image in a corner of the gallery on the first floor.

The castle was equipped by Cuypers with the most modern gadgets, such as electrical lighting with its own generator, and central heating by way of steam. This installation is internationally recognized as an industrial monument. The kitchen was for that period also very modern and still has a large collection of copper pots and pans and an enormous furnace of approximately 6 metres long, which is heated with peat or coals. The tiles in the kitchen are decorated with the coats of arms of the families De Haar and Van Zuylen, which were for this purpose especially baked in Franeker. Cuypers marked out the difference between the old walls and the new bricks, by using a different kind of brick for the new walls. For the interior Cuypers made a lot of use of cast iron.

In the castle one can see many details which reminds one of the family De Rothschild, such as the David stars on the balconies of the knight's hall, the motto of the family on the hearth in the knight's hall (A majoribus et virtute) and the coat of arms of the family right underneath on the hearth in the library.

The interior of the castle is decorated with richly ornamented woodcarving, which reminds one of the interior of a Roman Catholic church. This carving was made in the workshop of Cuypers in Roermond. The place where later also the interiors of many Roman Catholic churches were made, designed by Cuypers. Cuypers even designed the tableware. The interior is also furnished with many works of the Rothschild collections, including beautiful old porcelain from Japan and China, and several old Flemish tapestries and paintings with religious illustrations. A showpiece is a carrier coach of the woman of a Shogun from Japan. There is only one more left in the world, which stands in a museum in Tokyo. Many Japanese tourists come to De Haar to admire exactly this coach, which was donated from the Rothschilds collections.

Surrounding the castle there is a park, designed by Hendrik Copijn, for which Van Zuylen ordered 7000 fully grown trees. Because these could not be transported through the city of Utrecht, Van Zuylen bought a house and tore it down. The park contains many waterworks and a formal garden which reminds one of the French gardens of Versailles. During the Second World War many of the gardens were lost, because the wood was used to light fires, and the soil was used to grow vegetables upon. At this time, the gardens are restored in their old splendor.

For the decoration of the park, the village Haarzuilens, except for the town church, was broken down. The inhabitants were moved to a place a kilometer further up, where a new Haarzuilens arose, where they lived as tenants of the lord of the castle. This new village was also built in a pseudo-medieval style, including a rural village green. The buildings were for the most part designed by Cuypers and his son Joseph Cuypers.