Tracks from the past

The list below presents types of historical remains that can be found in Vindelfjällen. Next time you visit the area, keep an eye open for these traces of early civilisation. What are the traces our ancestors have left behind? What will we leave behind for our successors?


Bark harvests
On old pine trees you can find scars that were made by people long ago. If these scars are rectangular, with visible marks from the knife that was used to peel away the bark, then they are a sign that the bark was harvested. The inner bark was used for food. Near Aitenjas, the hiking trail passes up to Guoletsbäcken and the Kungsleden Trail. There is a pine forest on the south-facing slope that contains traces of bark harvesting. The cultural history of the area has been well-documented in a dissertation by Ulrika Jansson. The bark was harvested here by Sámi people during the 1700s and 1800s.


A variety of early settlements and dwellings have been found in Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve. Vindelkroken is a settlement that is several thousand years old, and it is still used today by the Sámi people.


Pitfall traps
Long before the birth of Christ, pitfall traps were used for hunting animals. Wild reindeer and elk were caught using these traps. Pitfall traps were effective and were used during a long period in history. Within Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve you can see a system of pitfall traps along the River Tjulån, west of Ammarnäs.


Buildings are perhaps the most obvious traces left by earlier generations. An old building in these parts can be around 100-200 years old. The most readily available timber for building in this area was birch.


Quartz workshops
Basic, very early workshops and dwellings have been found on Mount Artfjäll. During the Mesolithic period until the Bronze Age and early Iron Age (5000-6000 years ago), the climate in the mountains was mild and productive. Pine formed the tree-line, and hunters and fishermen spent at least part of the year in the mountains. At a number of places around Gräsvattnet, Långfjället and Mieskatjåkka, discarded quartz, arrowheads and other remains from prehistoric workshops can be found. The archaeologist Lena Holm wrote about these workshops in her doctoral thesis from 1992.


Hunting huts
Early hunters used to spend long periods out in the mountains. Simple dwellings were built so that they had somewhere to stay while they were away on the hunting grounds.


Hay mires
Most mires used to be mown for hay. Each village had its own mires. Mires were even mown up in the mountains, and sedge hay provided winter fodder for sheep, goats and cattle. The use of outfields was most intensive between 1830 and 1950, when farmers colonized the mountains and needed hay and forest pasture. The traces from this that you can find in the countryside are hay-drying racks, ditches, hay barns and sluice gates. On mire holms, where it was suitable to rest and camp, you can find hearths, carvings and firewood stores.


Systems of pathways run throughout the mountains. What are their origins? The paths we use today were perhaps those used by wild animals, or created by reindeer herders. The trail between Ammarnäs and Tärnaby was prepared during the 1930s. Between Slätvik and Biellojaure, the path is pleasantly sunken into the slope, so that walking or riding is more comfortable. Those who constructed these paths received economic benefits from the State. In the 1950s, a road suitable for tractors was built between Norra Fjällnäs and Forsavan. The King naturally had to be transported comfortably to Forsavan. Nowadays, only reindeer herders and local inhabitants use the road to Forsavan. After the establishment of the nature reserve, Tore Abrahamsson led an inquiry into Vindelfjällen’s trail system.


Forest pasture
Livestock have favourite grazing sites. On some days they might graze in the fen, while on others they prefer the dry meadow. Between these areas, trails were formed that can still be seen today. Carvings on trees might have been made by the goat herders who accompanied their animals.


Axe handles
Timber for tools such as axes was prepared well in advance. Today you can still find suitable axe handles in barked birches in the mountain birch forest. Many years after the bark has been carved away, the birch grows, forming a scar over the carved area that is ideal for making axe handles.