Stone Age
Mesolithic Period:
The first inhabitants

The population settles
Neolithic Period:
New discovery: pottery

Settlement of South Karelia in the Neolithic Period
How did people live in the Stone Age
Lake Saimaa and Stone-Age habitation
Shorelevel displacement
Map of sites
Early Metal Age
Map of sites
Iron Age
Early Iron Age
Late Iron Age:
Viking Period

The time of the Crusades
The prehistoric period comes to an end
Map of sites
Building the ancient castles required extensive organisation and cooperation. Construction of the ancient castles was begun at the end of the Iron Age. About 100 of them are known in Finland. Their use dates generally from the 800s to the 1300s A.D. The picture shows the view from the hill fort at Kuivaketvele in Taipalsaari. Picture, South Karelian Museum / Seppo Pelkonen.

Karoniemi in Ruokolahti was inhabited from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. The picture shows beads found in excavations and dating to the time of the Vikings, 800s - 1100s A.D. Some of the kinds of beads may have been made in the Mediterranean region. Pictures, Pekka Karoniemi.
Viking Period
As the wilderness was tamed and the Vikings opened a road to the east in the 800s, the changes were reflected in South Karelia, as well. People travelled through the wilderness trading furs and other items. Settlers and new influences made their way into the region via the waterways, and wilderness stations and pioneer farms were built as support bases in propitious locations. Defence fortifications were also erected against unrest.

The pulse of the time is particularly visible in Taipalsaari, where a village-like settlement grew. Burial grounds at Vammonniemi and Mammonniemi and the hill forts at Kuivaketvele, Vitsai and Turasalo, perhaps built as refuges, tell of the existence of a society that already practiced both agriculture and animal husbandry. The cemetery with burial cairns in Hirnilä in Rautjärvi was most likely the burial site for a wilderness station or pioneer farm. Tools and weapons found there tell of slash-and-burn practices of clearing woodland for cultivation, and also of the dangers lurking in the wilds.

Contact among nations is evident: among the most beautiful artefacts found in the prehistoric settlement at Karoniemi in Ruokolahti are luxury items from Viking times, glass beads which were made in the Mediterranean region. Contact existed between the southeastern shore of Lake Ladoga and Häme and western Finland, and some of the travel routes probably went through South Karelia.