Monday, 18 June 2012
Rolling Stones, Finnish Style
Finland has its very own stone-based monuments to human achievement, perseverance and ingenuity. Yet they are largely unknown or at least unsung.
These monuments can be found in the Finnish countryside.
Dotted around virtually every field in Finland are very large rocks rising from the ground. They are not there because Finnish farmers are keen patrons of the Arts, with a particular penchant for Monumental Art. These stones were simply left there by nature when the ice melted at the end of the ice-age.
In a modest way, I got some small indication of the effort involved when I had to dig a hole roughly 2m long x 1m wide x 60cm deep (6 1/2 ft x 3 ft x 2 ft) in the garden of a Finnish summer house (mökki). [Not to get rid of a body I hasten to add: if you really have to know, it was hole in which to bury the content of the mökki's outhouse. Oh the romance of the Finnish countryside!]
Digging that hole took me HOURS of toil because there were stones absolutely everywhere. And these were fairly small stones, the biggest being about the size of a basketball. I can't begin to imagine how hard it must have been for the early Finnish farmers to clear their fields.
Despite the amazing efforts of the Finnish farmers though, a few stones do remain in the fields. I always assumed that these were simply too big to shift, but I discovered that these stones are actually called Napakivi (pole/navel stone) or tonttukivi (elf stone), and are believed to been put there or left there as some sort of fertility symbols. I am not sure I buy that theory: it sounds to me like post-rationalisation. I reckon the reality was more like: "Hei, Jukka-Pekka, I don't think we can move this one, perkele! Let's just leave it there and call it something special so no one questions our sisu."
This, however, should not detract from the amazing achievements of those unsung early Finnish farmers in transforming the inhospitable land they found when they first arrived (see "How the Finns came to Finland") into something that produces, amongst others, the best strawberries I have ever eaten anywhere in the world.
On that basis, I believe the Finns have earned their place along the Mayans, the Stonehengers and the Easter Islanders in the pantheon of master stone shifters.
Posted by Telefinn at 06:40