University of Oulu

Ikäheimo, J., Äikäs, T. & Kallio-Seppä, T. Hist Arch (2019) 53: 393.

Memorialization and heritagization : investigating the site of the last execution by hanging in Finland

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Author: Ikäheimo, Janne1; Äikäs, Tiina1; Kallio-Seppä, Titta1
Organizations: 1Archaeology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 7.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-06


This article focuses on the processes of memorialization and heritagization through a case study from Oulu, Finland, where a cast-iron rail encircling a pine tree constitutes a memorial marking the site of the country’s last official execution by hanging in 1916. The memorial and its immediate surroundings are examined here through historical documents and maps, tree-ring data, interviews, and the results of small-scale archaeological excavations. The evidence indicates various modes of interaction—crosses carved on the memorial tree, a magical cache, finds pertaining mainly to the consumption of intoxicating substances—exposing a lesser-known and more intimate side of the site biography than is evident from written records. Finally, both individual and national practices of remembering and forgetting related to the memorial highlight the way memorialization transformed the death of an ordinary man into a nationalistic symbol to be used and exploited in various quarters during the past century.

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Series: Historical archaeology
ISSN: 0440-9213
ISSN-E: 2328-1103
ISSN-L: 0440-9213
Volume: 53
Issue: 2
Pages: 393 - 411
DOI: 10.1007/s41636-019-00183-x
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.