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Kvænangen

Following the Traces of the Ice Age

Glaciers, the Saami and killer whales

General Information

About Kvænangen

Kvænangen is a commune in the Troms region, in the northern part of Norway. Its main village is Burfjord.

Until the beginning of the 16th century, these areas were inhabited only by primitive peoples – the Saami. In the 18th century they were joined by the Norwegians from the south and the Kvens from the east – people of Finnish origin. Although the latter constitute a minority, the name of the region comes from their name.

There are many traces of the past and archaeological finds in the area, especially those related to the Saami culture. On the island of Spildra there are some Saami ritual sites, as well as their graves dating back to the times of the Vikings and the early Middle Ages. There are also 6 bear graves from 40 discovered all over Norway. The Saami treated these powerful animals almost as their equal. Bears were sacred animals to them – they arouse admiration and respect. Their bones often played a part in rituals, so theuy were buried later. It happened that bears and people were buried together in one chest. The Saami chose for this purpose natural rock faults, which they covered with boulders. It seems that the ritual was performed from the Iron Age until the 19th century.

More Information

The Kingdom of Nature

The whole region is extremely interesting in terms of nature. There are great traces of the last Ice Age - the whole fjord is U-shaped, and in many places you can see giant polished stones. On the rocks there is a clear coastline, where remains of stone age settlements have been found. In the area we can see characteristic nunataki - sharp peaks once rising above the surface of a glacier or heavily glaciated mountains. After the retreat of the ice sheet, they still clearly contrast with other more rounded peaks. On the other hand, there are also coral reefs here that invite you to dive.

In the northern part of the region, there is the Jøkelfjorden Fjord, which boasts the only European glacier calving directly into the sea - Øksfjordjøkelen. More to the south lies geologically interesting Skorpa island and 4 km below - Sørstraumen, where there is one of the strongest tidal currents in the world, which is only in the Norwegian Sea - Malstrøm.

"The icing on the cake" is the multitude of animals. In the sky we can see white-tailed eagles, falcons, hawks and cormorants. In the water - catfish, halibut, cod, coalfish (mainly in summer) and killer whales, which have been appearing here in pursuit of herrings since the winter of 2017/18.