Finnish Prehistory »» Virnamäki and Komonen, Turku »» Visited: 08-2007 »» Compiled/Revised: 03-2008

+ Location on a map / Sijainti kartalla

The Virnamäki site of Halinen, as such, belongs to a large area full of prehistoric relics such as iron/Viking-age residential places, burial mounds, and hill forts. This particular piece of Aurajoki riverside however houses an interesting collection of stone altars. These are not comparable to the megalithic monuments of mainland Europe, but obviously have served an important purpose in the ancient Finnish culture and worship of local gods.

Such stones are mainly from 500 BC to 1150 AD, although documents tell that the countryfolk utilized them long after the Christianizing of Finland, even unto the beginning of the 20th century. Old beliefs die hard. As is the nature of these altars, they commonly are situated near burial grounds or old fields. They have small, roundish, shallow holes cut into them -- called cups in Finland, hence the name 'cup stone' -- usually around 5cm in diameter. There may be only a single cup, but rocks with over a hundred in each have been found elsewhere. The Virnamäki ones contain about 3-10 per stone. The cups worked as vessels for food offerings just like normal bowls would. Grain was sacrificed to the gods or ancestors so that the crops would flourish, and for instance cow's new-milk produced right after calving was poured in to guarantee prosperity with livestock. In the Eastern Finland such rainwater that had accumulated into the holes was used as a cure for the illnesses of eye and skin. Generally the altars have been associated with fertility rites, ancestor worship, and healing magic.

The Finnish heathen god list of Mikael Agricola from the 16th century mentions the worship of stones, obviously meaning similar kinds of rocks as described here. It also records a couple of gods associated with farming. Some of them may have been the targets of sacrifice in traditions that lasted almost till the present day (and may still persevere somewhere).

References / Lähteet:

A local information table.


Click thumbnails to see full images.

Klikkaa pikkukuvia nähdäksesi täysikokoiset valokuvat.

virnamaki1_tb (5K) virnamaki2_tb (4K) virnamaki3_tb (6K)

virnamaki4_tb (5K)

virnamaki5_tb (5K) virnamaki6_tb (3K)

virnamaki8_tb (5K) virnamaki9_tb (4K)

virnamaki10_tb (5K) virnamaki11_tb (3K) virnamaki12_tb (5K)

virnamaki13_tb (6K)