Nicholas Roerich Estate Museum in Izvara
Nicholas Roerich
Estate Museum

in Izvara

N. Roerich «Ancient Finnish Churches»
Original in Russian

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In the Scandinavian issue all details are important. Things interesting in their own right are becoming more significant, as a fragment of a unified whole. The meaning of ancient Finnish churches is an element of the entire issue; as we shall see, clarifications in this respect are suggestive of highly interesting future conclusions.

First thing we have to resolve is that the earliest movement of the Scandinavians towards the East was more significant than the movement of the Novgorodians in the opposite direction. One has to admit the fact of there being residential Scandinavians in the western corner of Finland in the 10th century. In this respect the spacious masonry temples of Roman Catholic denomination constructed in the agglomerations of skerries as early as in 12-13th centuries should not seem peculiar.

Let us briefly trace the movements of the Scandinavians towards the East. This colonization should have happened in very old times. The bronze and silver cultures of Königsberg and Kurzeme yielding multiple and rich finds; Gnezdovskaya and Lutsinskaya cultures; artifacts unearthed in Chernigov, Kiev, and, understandably, in Volkhov, Mstinsk and Upper Volga, both more and less ancient – they all testify to there being not a migratory but fully sedentary Northern culture.

That culture is felt to have been brought not by chance ramblers but engraved in the local customs; it was adopted into the living standards and possessed of no superficiality. Based on types of the finds it may become possible to shift the steps of the Northern advance beyond the 10th century. And if that were so in Russia, then all the more so in Finland – the country most proximate to Scandinavia and peopled by minor and not very strong populace, which by the beginning of the 10th century must have been fraught with Viking influence – the culture of impetuous explorers. Assuming that the Ladoga inhabitants could levy tribute from the residents of Tavastehus as early as the 10th century one must admit that the vestiges of later Russian movements in Finland are indeed very meagre, limited to a few mounds and several Novgorod-type crosses. Not more frequent than the finds of Kufic coins! Conversely, the insular and shoreline mound types are demonstrative of there having been many Scandinavians particularly in western Finland.

One feels sorry for the Krivichi Slavs! Sorry for all those things that we have grown accustomed to believe are related to Slavs, for sentimental reasons. Their importance for us is being reduced as perforce the Finnish data the historical power field of the Slavs is thinning. Considering this it is important to bear in mind the latest conclusion of Mr. A. Spitsyn in respect of long barrows in Lake and Upper Dnepr districts. They used to be ascribed to Slavs but now this researcher believes the barrows to have a Finnish trace about them. Based on the data from Stockholm archives, Mr. H. Neovius in his last publication devoted to movements of Scandinavians in ancient Russia draws our attention to the lake Rurika Jarvi (pronounced ‘Rürika’ according to Swedish fashion), located in Kegsholm District of the Ladoga Region. Well-known testimony by Nestorius as to overseas rulers having been invited by Slavs is questioned, whereby that invitation is attributed to Scandinavian settlers who by the time had colonized areas along the rivers Dnepr and Volkhov. An “invitation” would have been strange if expressed by indigenous Slavs but altogether more reasonable if voiced by aliens calling their most proximate Freiherr to “their” land, where they had settled, to establish law and order and protect trading routs. Quite reasonable! And, in any case, the wish to explain the matter in the most logical way without any unwarranted exaggeration is highly commendable. Thereat we might recall the ravishing scenic beauty of the landscapes to the north of the Ladoga lake, the variety of fur bearing animals still abundant amongst interminable forest stretches of the lake district. Such traits were attractive to enterprising people from afar. The title of Neovius’ article is “Om spar af förhistorisk Skandinavisk kolonisation in Karden” (Museum, No.2, 1907)

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Museum Address: 188414, Izvara Village, Volosovo District, Leningrad Region, Russia.
Phones: +7-813-73-73-273 (group tours); Phone/Fax +7-813-73-73-298 (general)
Museum Director: Cherkasova Olga Anatolievna