Burial customs

We don’t know very much about Sámi burial rituals in pre-Christian times.

Some later sources mention that the one who had to prepare the body for burial had to wear a brass arm ring to ward off evil spirits. This was not to be taken off until the body had been laid in the grave. The most common form of burials were scree burials.

In many places there are offering rings by Sámi graves. These may have been used for offerings as part of the burial or perhaps to honour the dead.

Many labyrinths have been found along the coast of Finnmark and in the Kola Peninsula, often close to burial places. These may also have been used for burial rituals. Perhaps the dead were borne in and out of the labyrinth to mark the mystical transition between life and death.

Olsen, Bjørnar, 1989: Labyrintene på Finnmarkskysten, i Bertelsen, Reidar, Per Kyrre Reymert og Astrid Utne: Framskritt for fortida i nord.
Manker, Ernst, 1961: Lappmarksgravar.
Schanche, Audhild, 2000: Graver i ur og berg.
Schefferus, Johannes, 1956 [1673]: Lappland.

Urgrav innunder stor stein på Ceavccageađge/Mortensnes i Varanger. Govva/Foto: VSM.