The Forest Finns as a model for the early slavic migration

Conference in Svabensverk, Sweden

Visiting the Roekstuga
Visiting the Rökstuga. Photo: H. Keller.

From the late 16th to the mid-17th century, groups of Finns from the historic province of Savonia migrated to Sweden and Norway. Since most of them settled in woodland and pursued slash-and-burn agriculture, they were called Forest Finns. An interdisciplinary ROOTS project examines this historical migration movement as a model for early Slavic migrations. On 20-22 September 2022, the international collaborators of the project held a conference in Svabensverk, Sweden The scientists involved were international specialists of different disciplines such as archaeobotany, ethnoarchaeology and soil experts from Norway, Canada, Sweden and Germany.

The conference started with a visit to Forest Finns museum at Skräddrabo, that displays about 300 object, showing tools, music instruments, culture, history, housing and parts of the archaeological record. The museum also includes the biggest Forest Finns library. The museum visit was complemented by a tour to a traditional Rökstuga, located deep in the forest around Skäddrabo. The Forest Finns housing is characterized by it’s special oven. Other than common ovens with chimneys to channel out the smoke (and the heat), Rökstugas are furnished with huge stone-ovens without a chimney. The smoke accumulates underneath the ceiling and escapes through a small vent. As the scientists were able to experience first-hand, the smoked Rökstuga is not inconvenient, rather atmospheric, cozy and steadily warm.

The theoretical part of the meeting in Svabensverk began with introduction into the Forest Finns (archaeological) record and their slash-and-burn agriculture. The first day finished off with a movie about the Forest Finns´ process of slash-and-burn cultivation starting with cleaning out the forest, harvesting the forest-rye, through to the bread on the dining table.

The second conference day was scheduled with more lectures and discussion about a wide range of topics: the analogy of the Forest Finns and the slavs, their archaeological core, how traces of slash-and-burn cultivation can be identified in soils and pollen and how archaeological Forest Finns can help finding possible traces of slavic slash-and-burn agriculture, just to name a few. Furthermore the definition and use of wording for slash-and-burn agriculture was discussed.

On the last day, the participants started to prepare a conference report, that will be published soon.

For more information on the project, go to

Inside the Roekstuga
Inside the Rökstuga. Photo: J. Schneeweiß

Collaborators of the conference
Collaborators of the conference. Photo: J. Schneeweiß.


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions