Photo of the month

August 2020

After a well-deserved summer vacation, we started our busy autumn with an excursion to the battle sites and monuments of the Finnish War (1808–1809). The excursion is related to our research project of a young soldier who died at the war. Now it is time to write a multi-authored monograph. During our journey, we visited the memorial monuments at Revonlahti and Siikajoki where the Swedish army won the first battles in April 1808. The Convention of Olkijoki (November 19th) was signed inside the red cottage. According to the convention, Oulu needed to be surrendered to the Russians by November 29th and Kemi by December 13th, meaning that the Swedish army had to retreat from Finland. As result of the war, Finland became an independent Grand Duchy of Russia.


The retreating proved harsh for the sick, weakened troops wandering in the snow without proper winter-gear. Many would not make it. About two hundred soldiers died and about 1000 soldiers were left behind on the way from Oulu to Tornio. One of these soldiers, the young soldier who’s remains we have studied, was buried in a mass grave just north from Oulu.


The Finnish War between 1808–1809 was part of the larger Napoleonic Wars in Europe. In July 7th 1807 at Tilsit, Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France signed a peace treaty and allied against Great Britain. They pressured other European countries to join the Continental System that cut both diplomatic and trade relations with the country. The king of Sweden, Gustaf IV Adolf, did not want join the System. As part of the alliance between France and Russia, Russia was delegated the responsibility of convincing Sweden to join the Continental System and Napoleon's embargo against Great Britain, despite Sweden’s alliance with Great Britain. Although Russia was not interested in Finland, in February 1808 Russia invaded Finland in an attempt to force Sweden switch sides.

June 2020

During the late 19th century a phenomenon of child unemployment was experienced in Finland. Due to advances in manufacture procedures and tightened laws that introduced age limits for the employed, less children were employed at the factories. This image is taken at the exhibition “Finlayson 200 – a factory that became a brand” displayed at Vapriikki museum centre at Tampere. July was a holiday month for our researchers but it was interesting to learn about the history of the fabric mill and their workers. The exhibition gave an aspect to two of our research interests: fabric production and children as fabric producers or mill workers. The mill was established in 1820 by a Scot, James Finlayson, who introduced child labour in Finland. Offering work for children was considered as charity. Some of the children were less than 10 years old, and the working conditions were poor. The factory was dusty and noisy and the adult coworkers could be mean towards children. At the exhibition, a model of the factory building truthfully displays the workers performing their duties.


Photo: Sanna Lipkin (2020)  

June 2020

Both in January and June we were busy building museum exhibitions at the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum. Exhibitions represent our research results on church burials in Northern Finland. You may visit these exhibitions at the museum until August 30, 2020.

The exhibitions are called:

Buried with care – archaeological research in Northern Finland 

Changing church burial traditions

In Finland, burying the deceased under the church floors was customary from the Middle Ages to the late 18th century. The practice eventually ended through the order of the emperor of Russia in 1822. A burial place beneath the church was highly valued. As a result, the space under the floor was full of chamber tombs and coffins in many churches. Child mortality was high until the late 19th century; families had to make small coffins quite often. Many of the coffins under church floors are of infants and young children.

Based on archaeological research conducted in Oulu, Hailuoto, Ii, Tornio and Keminmaa, Buried with Care presents the burial practices as well as individuals buried under the churches between the 14th and 19th centuries. When an infant or a young child died, the dead was buried in a coffin beautifully decorated with white fabric. The deceased often held flowers made of silk and beads in their hands. The archaeological materials recovered from under Oulu Cathedral and the old church of Hailuoto show both care over the dead child and a sense of peaceful rest.

The exhibition explores various sensory experiences linked to death. The smell of the dead body was often masked using scented and antibacterial plants, herbs and sawdust. The deceased were placed in their coffins to wait for the Resurrection. Along with adults with marks of their diseases and the personal items that accompanied them in their coffins, the exhibition shows how children were regarded as important members of their communities. For instance, a young woman excavated from a medieval burial place in Hamina in Ii was found wearing a cross of eastern origin.

The exhibitions are based on research funded by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation and the Academy of Finland conducted at the University of Oulu. The exhibitions are produced in collaboration with archaeologists from the University of Oulu, the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, the Museum of Tornio Valley and the Kemi Historical Museum. It is the third instalment of a series of exhibitions. The first two exhibitions were displayed in Kemi (Rungius, Buried in the Church) and Tornio (Anna, Buried in the Church) in 2019

May 2020

In late May, when after being back to schools for two weeks, the Finnish school children started their summer vacation after coronavirus spring. This statue at Ainolan puisto (Oulu) decided also to take his hat off and launch the boat.

April 2020

Vappu, the 1st of May, is specifically important celebration for children and students. Then you may dress nicely and blow balloons. University students dress in work uniforms, get drunk and go for picnic in the parks. In Oulu archaeology students wear brown uniforms, they won't get too dirty if you roll in the ground. This is a selection of pics of our researchers, Tiina Väre, Saara Tuovinen, Sanna Lipkin and Tiina Kuokkanen, celebrating Vappu few years ago.

March 2020

In early March Tiina visited Havana for the Antropos 2020 conference and made it home to quarantine just barely before things got serious.

February 2020

At the moment Tiina Kuokkanen is working as a visiting researcher at Centre for Textile Research in University of Copenhagen. While concentrating on early modern textile making she has also visited local museums to gain new perspective to her studies. This photo is from Rosenborg Castle, where you can see Christian IV's (1577–1648) toilet.

January 2020

Last year marked a change for Tiina Väre's little family. In late September, they took off and moved to Stockholm. As a visiting researcher at the Archaeological Research Laboratory of the University of Stockholm, for the past three months, Tiina has been preparing collagen samples for the analysis of the stable isotope ratios in archaeological dentin. As our teeth preserve the information of our childhood diets, the mentioned analyses enable examining the past breastfeeding practices. Extraction of collagen requires executing several work stages, but luckily working at the lab can be very exciting. 

December 2019

This late 19th century doll fragment was found at Hämeenlinna (Varikonniemi) couple of decades ago. Similar dolls have been found also elsewhere in Finland. Small white porcelain dolls have been connected with the story of Frozen Charlotte, a tale about a girl who did not dress properly for a sleigh ride while travelling to a New Year's ball, and froze to death. Even though the dolls are white as death, it has been contested, if the Victorians themselves considered the dolls as corpses. It is even more unlikely that children in Finland would have reproduced an American tale in their plays. Nevertheless, it would be tempting to assume that, similarly as in Northern America, these dolls were used for playing funerals also in Finland. When it was found, the 19th-century finds were not appreciated as they are today, and the doll does not have any inventory number, but belongs to a private collection.

Photo: Antti Kaarlela (2019)

November 2019

In December 24th 1913 at Calumet, Michigan, around 70 people, most of them children, were suffocated in a staircase after unidentified person had shouted ”fire”. Happy event where santa was giving presents to children ended tragically. Today, Sanna Lipkin is studying the memorization of these children, many of them with Finnish origin.

Photo: Sanna Lipkin (2018)

October 2019

For the last month Saara Tuovinen has been studying the population of parishes of Northern Ostrobothnia. The Swedish Crown wanted to receive detailed information about births, marriages, and deaths of each parish. The priests also were told to inform other kinds of incidents. Here is an example from Hailuoto where two great storms caused flooding both 30th of October and 12th of November 1752.


Kuluneen kuukauden ajan Saara Tuovinen on tutkinut väestön kehitystä Pohjois-Pohjanmaan alueelta. Ruotsin kruunu halusi kerätä tarkempaa tietoa väestön kehityksestä. Seurakuntien papit täyttivät nämä tiedot valmiisiin väkilukutaulukoihin, joihin he samalla merkitsivät myös vuoden kulkuun liittyviä tapahtumia. Tässä on esimerkiksi maininta kahdesta tulvia nostattaneesta myrskystä (stormista) Hailuodosta loka- ja marraskuusta vuodelta 1752.

Kuva: Saara Tuovinen
Dokumentin arkistotiedot:
Oulun maakunta-arkisto, Hailuodon seurakunnan arkisto, IIDf:1 Väkilukutaulukot, Hailuodon väkilukutaulukot 1749–1775

September 2019

Last summer Tiina Kuokkanen studied the archive of the Varjakka saw mill (1900–1928). She tried to find information especially about two houses that have been located on the Kukonkatu and Finninkatu streets. Information on workers' housing can be found, for example, in this order on rent and firewood.

Tiina Kuokkanen työskenteli viime kesänä Varjakan sahan (1900–1928) arkiston parissa etsien tietoa erityisesti kahdesta Kukon- ja Finninkaduilla sijainneesta talosta. Tietoa työläisten asumisesta löytyi esimerkiksi tästä vuokria ja polttopuita koskevasta määräyksestä.


Kuva: Tiina Kuokkanen

Dokumentin arkistotiedot:


Uleå Oy:n Varjakan höyrysahan arkisto, Sekalaiset luettelot 1927 – 1929

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