Reindeer burials

Several types of burials (deposits) of reindeer bones and horns have been found in Sámi areas.

One such type is a collection of bones left from meals which have been buried in the vicinity of dwellings and covered with stones. In south Sámi this is called jĺrtesie, the “bone hide”.

These pits were to keep dogs and wild animals away from the remains of meals, but sources from Västerbotten also describe the bone burial as a kind of offering.

Finds of entire skeletons of individual reindeer are called “reindeer burials”. The reindeer burials are often in scree or rocks and therefore resemble scree burials of people. In the scree burial area at Mortensnes in Varanger, several reindeer burials have been found together with the graves of people. The reindeer skeletons are assumed to be the remains of ritual sacrifice.

Schanche, Audhild, 2000: Graver i ur og berg.

Ceavccageađge/Transteinen i Mortensnes. Govva/Foto: Mihkku Solbakk