University of Oulu

Herva, V., Ikäheimo, J., Enbuske, M., & Okkonen, J. (2018). Alternative Pasts and Colonial Engagements in the North: The Materiality and Meanings of the Pajala ‘Runestone’ (Vinsavaara Stone), Northern Sweden. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 28(4), 613-628. doi:10.1017/S0959774318000197

Alternative pasts and colonial engagements in the North : the materiality and meanings of the Pajala ‘Runestone’ (Vinsavaara Stone), northern Sweden

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Author: Herva, Vesa-Pekka1; Ikäheimo, Janne1; Enbuske, Matti2;
Organizations: 1Department of Archaeology, P.O. Box 1000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of History, P.O. Box 1000, FI-90014 University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-05-09


The unknown and exotic North fascinated European minds in the early modern period. A land of natural and supernatural wonders, and of the indigenous Sámi people, the northern margins of Europe stirred up imagination and a plethora of cultural fantasies, which also affected early antiquarian research and the period understanding of the past. This article employs an alleged runestone discovered in northernmost Sweden in the seventeenth century to explore how ancient times and northern margins of the continent were understood in early modern Europe. We examine how the peculiar monument of the Vinsavaara stone was perceived and signified in relation to its materiality, landscape setting, and the cultural-cosmological context of the Renaissance–Baroque world. On a more general level, we use the Vinsavaara stone to assess the nature and character of early modern antiquarianism in relation to the period’s nationalism, colonialism and classicism.

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Series: Cambridge archaeological journal
ISSN: 0959-7743
ISSN-E: 1474-0540
ISSN-L: 0959-7743
Volume: 28
Issue: 4
Pages: 613 - 628
DOI: 10.1017/S0959774318000197
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: This research has been funded by, and is part of, the projects ‘Collecting Sápmi: Early Modern Globalization of Sámi Material Culture and Contemporary Sámi Cultural Heritage’, based at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, and funded by the Swedish Research Council (grant number 421-2013-1917), and ‘Understanding the Cultural Impact and Issues of Lapland Mining: A Long-Term Perspective on Sustainable Mining Policies in the North’, based at the University of Oulu, Finland, and funded by the Academy of Finland (decision number 283119).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 283119
Detailed Information: 283119 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2018. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.