THE DELOS INITIATIVE

 

 

Ukonvuori - Kolovesi National Park

 

 

Kolovesi National Park lies in the Province of Eastern Finland, South Savo Region, and it includes areas in the municipalities of Enonkoski, Heinävesi and Savonranta. Its total area is 23 sq.km. It is managed by the Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus.
 

Kolovesi is a part of the greater Lake Saimaa complex, which forms the largest lake in Finland. Kolovesi National Park was established in 1990 to protect the natural features of the Lake Saimaa archipelago in their natural state, the habitat of the endemic Saimaa Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida saimensis), and the forest ecosystems characteristic of Southern Finland. The wilderness-like national park offers an attractive setting for canoeing or row boating in the midst of the peaceful landscape. Motor boats are not allowed.

In Kolovesi the scenery is dominated by cliffs rising vertically from the lake, at some places to 40 metres above the water level. This scenery was formed by the last Ice Age. In the eastern part of the park, rugged Ukonvuori Hill is a beautiful sight, containing formations of quartz crystals. The ancient people used to fish and hunt in the area, and they left behind rock paintings displaying human and animal (e.g. elk) figures.  

The rock paintings in the national park, situated along an important ancient waterway, are considered to be sacred sites, which were associated with the annual cycle of spiritual ceremonies. The ceremonies were related to fishing and hunting. The sacred sites were collective meeting places, where the spiritual rituals reflected and strengthened the social identity of the ancient people. The best-known rock paintings in Kolovesi are located at Ukonvuori inside the Park and Vieruvuori, and Havukkavuori just outside the Park boundary. In Heinävesi and Enonkoski the rock paintings are located in cave-like sites, surrounded by rocks and cliffs, which resemble animal and human figures. According to experts, Ukonvuori is a sacred site of Ukko, the god of thunderstorms.

The dating of rock paintings is very difficult in nearly every case and locality. According to the current view, rock paintings began  to appear in Finland in the beginning of the Neolithic Stone Age. The painting tradition probably ended around 4,000-3,500 years ago.

 

The Kolovesi National Park, with its peaceful landscapes and ancient sacred sites, has a great potential to be used for educational purposes and in allowing contemporary people to experience the spiritual values of the site by themselves.

 

            Responsible: M. Määta

            E-mail: matti.maatta@metsa.fi