The History of Lapland

Written by John Scheffer
Oxford 1674

Of the Situation of Lapland.

The true and exact situation of this Country the Antients seem not to have sufficiently discovered. Saxo makes it bordering upon Jamtia, ex­tending its self as far, or rather lying as it were between Helsingia and Fin­land, when in these words he says the Provinces of the Helsingi, Iarnberi, Iemti, with both the Lappia’s, as likewise Finnia and Estia paid annual tribute to one Domarus. Ericus Upsaliensis seems to make it a part of Finland, mistaking it for a certain part of that Kingdome so called, on the one side adjoining to Swedland, on the other to Russia, giving it a place between Carelia and Ny­landia. Ol. Magn. in his Table, and so his brother Johan. Magnus in the Preface of his History, place it higher then the western Bothnia, making neighbours to it Scrikfinnia furthest towards the North, and Biarmia towards the East; though some a think there is no such place as Scrikfinnia, as it is certain there is none in those parts at this day called by that name. But yet we must not slightly pass over the unanimous opinion of so many learned men, especially Saxo, not a little knowing in the Northern affairs, who have all not barely named it, but have described the humours of the Inhabitants, their manners, habits and fashion of their governments, with other matters belonging to them. Instead of the Scrickfinni or Scricfinni of Johan. and Ol. Magn. I would rather read it Scrito­finni; and as for Skidfinni as Adr. Buræ would have it, all the Antients, what ever else they differ in, will agree in this, that there must be an R in the word. Jornandez calls them Scretfennæ, Paul. Warnefri. and Diacon. Scrito­bini changing f in b (of which and some other things of the like nature I will treat in due time and place) Adam Bremensis Scritefinni: and the Greeks agree in this writing, so that we ought not to doubt of the Latines. Procopius will have them sometimes Σκριθιφίκους, other times Σκριθιφίνους. Besides ’tis mani­fest since the Scritefinni are the same with the Finni, whose Etymology in their own language is from leaping, b by an art they have, by which with crooked pieces of wood under their feet like a bow they hunt wild beasts; they could not there­fore take their name from skidh, signifying the wooden shoes themselves, but from their leaping, i. e. swift running with them, which doubtless antiently was meant by Skriida, and which the Author cited by Warnius in the 46 page of his Lexicon confirms, where he relates the form of an oath made by Hafur, that he would preserve the peace Quamdiu Finnur skriidar, i. e. as long as the Finlanders continued their manner of leaping. As for the Etymology that is there given, that it signifies their wandring up and down, ’tis altogether false, for Skridsko at this day denotes those wooden shoes which they run upon the ice with; neither doth Skirida signify any thing else among the Antients but to glide along the ground, for they do not take up one foot after the other, as in com­mon running, but carrying themselves steady upon the frozen snow, they move forward stooping a little, as shall be shewn hereafter. And perhaps this is the onely cause that they are called Himantopodes, c People creeping upon their knees; which agrees exactly with these Scritofinni: for they hearing that Skriida was to creep along, what could they fancy the Scritofinni to be, but People not going like other men, but crawling forward like creeping animells, but of this I shall speak more at large when I come to the Laplanders gliding upon the ice. That which I would chiefly evince here, is, that there are such a people rightly called Scritofinni, and the Country which they inhabit is Scritofinnia or Scrit­finnia, and that there is no reason we should think there was no such place, since there are those who are called Scritfinni, i. e. Finlanders, who run upon the ice with wooden shoes, whose Country from thence may well be called Scri­tofinnia. And the same may be urged for Biarmia against those that will not allow there is any such place. For first the antient Writers making frequent mention of it, as that Author of the History thereof, calls it often Biarmaland in the old Gothick or Islandick language, who also calls the King of it Hereker in Ch. 7. and his two Sons, the one Rœrik the other Siggeir. Saxo likewise in his 9th book, speaks of a certain King of this place, who reigned in the time of Regner King of the Danes, making it border upon Finland, when he says the King of Biarmia fled for refuge to Matullus, who then reigned in Finland. But now granting there were antiently such names as Biarmia and Scritfinnia, it remains doubtfull still whether they were distinct Countries or no. All Authors except Johan. and Ol. Magn. seem to make them the same, Procop. Jornand. Paul. Warn­frid and Adam Bremensis speak of Scritfinnia, but none of Biarmia, and the North­ern writers do just contrary. Saxo indeed mentions them both, but not at the same time: once in his Preface he names Scritfinnia, leaving out Biarmia, in other places he names Biarmia omitting the other; from whence I am almost of opinion that ’tis the same Country named by native Writers Biarmia, by forreign Scritfinnia. We may add further that as Adam Bremensis makes Scritfinnia next to Helsingia, the Author of the History of Heraud and Bosa sets Biarmia in the same place, speaking of some Woods in it, and Rivers that emty them­selves into the Sinus Bothnicus or bay of Ganduia next to Helsingia. And more­over as the Scritfinni are a People of Finland, which not onely their name, but an old Chorographick Table commended by Grotius doth intimate, distinguish­ing the Fenni into the Scritfenni and Redefenni, so ’tis probable of the Biarmians lities that usually commend Lands for Agriculture. Then as to his urging its as well for their neighbourhood to Helsingia, of which before, as for their worshipping a God by the name of Jomala, which is a Finland word, de­noting God amongst them to this day. Moreover the Biarmians have many other things like the Finlanders, as the Art of darting, of Magic, &c. So that Biarmia may be a Colony of Finland, whose People were called by Strangers, from their skirring along, or gliding upon the snow, Scritofinni. But now supposing all this true, and that the Biarmia of the Ancients, and Scrit­finnia were the same, ’tis a question still whether Lapland be distinct from them or not. Joh. and Ol. Magnus in their Geographic Tables and descriptions, make them distinct Countries. But that cannot be; for if Scritfinnia and Biarmia reach one way to Helsingia and Jamtia, on the other to Finland; if they lye so near these Provinces, and extend to the Bay of Bothnia (both of which have bin demonstrated before) I do not see where Lapland can have any place at all. And the same Authors are also mistaken in putting it South of Biarmia and Scritfinnia, whereas the Antients placed these beyond it. For that they mean’t only by Biarmia that which the Swedes now call Trennes, appears to be false from what has bin said before: for where are any Rivers in Trennes that run into the Bay of Bothnia? and how is it bordering upon Finland? Wherefore contrary to Joh. and Ol. Magnus, I think rather that Lapland is the same that was first by the Inhabitants called Biarmia, by Strangers Scritfinnia, then changing the name for some of the reasons here produced, it came to be Lappia or Lapponia; which be­ginning from Jamtia and Angermannia, goes all about each Bothnia, and at length ends in the extremities of Carelia and Finland, so as to comprehend all the whole tract from the North even to the main Ocean, the white Sea, and the Lake Ladek, which are the very bounds of old Biarmia and Scritfinnia. But that it went as far as the Ocean, the Antients seem not to have so well understood; nor indeed Johan. and Ol. Magnus, who in those parts have made Scritfinnia and Biarmia different Countries from Lapland. So also Damianus Goes, who, whatever he knew of Lapland, had it from them, says it extends it self to unknown Regions, because he knew not who lived further towards the North Sea. But the Antients have placed there, besides the Scritfinni, the Cynocephali, Busti, Troglodytes, Pygmies, Cyclops’s, and some others, passing by the Himantopodes, of whom we have spoken before: tho in this age none doubts but the Laplanders inhabit it all, and those who have sailed along those Coasts have met with none others but Laplanders. In fine Charles the 9th King of Swedland in the year 1600, being desirous to know the truth of that Country, sent two famous Mathematicians, M. Aron. Forsius a Swedish Professour, and Hieronymus Birk­holten a German, with instruments, and all necessaries to make what disco­veries they could of Lapland; who at their return, did certify, and make it out, that beyond the Elevation of the Pole 73 degrees there was no Continent to­wards the North but the great frozen Sea, and that the farthest point was Norcum or Norcap, not far from the Castle of Wardhouse. But of this distant Lapland those that are curious may enquire at their leisure, we purpose to treat here only of that which is subject to the Government of the Swedes; and this is a vast Country, thought by Paulinus in his history of the North, of equall extent almost with all Swedland properly so called. Andr. Buræus says it contains in length above 100 German miles, and in breadth 90. All this Country comes now under the name of Lapland, in which all agree that ever described it; and if we would take an account of the Climate of it by this vast compass of Earth, we must begin from the 64th degree of latitude, and so to the 71; but in longitude it must extend at least to the 27th Meridian, or more. Moreover if we will compute the longitude from journies that have bin made thither, all hitherto have unanimously put the beginning of it about the 38th degree, and the end in the 65th. And this may suffice partly for an account of the situation of Lapland in general; and partly of that which is subject to the Swedes. Dam. à Goes, a Knight of Portugall, sets its bounds thus in his description of Spain: Lapland is divided into the Eastern and Western part, the Bothnick Sea coming between. The extremity of it is Tornia. Eastward it reaches to the white Lake, towards the North comprehending diverse Provinces, and extends it self beyond all knowledge. On the West towards Island it joins to part of Norway, and on the other side of Norway ’tis bounded with Swedland, Finland, and both the Bothnia’s. But Ol. Petr. Nieuren confutes this of the Bothnic Sea lying between; for so part of Lapland would lie in Finland or Ostrobothnia, part in Westrobothnia, which every one knows is false: and the very vulgar can tell so much, that the Bothnic Sea comes not any where within 18 or 20 miles of Lapland: tho this ought not to pass beyond Damianus’s time, since Nieurenius himself confesses in another place, that the Laplanders had their seat about the Bothnic Sea, but that afterwards they were driven out, of which I shall speak hereafter. I will only add here a Table of the latitudes and longi­tudes of the chiefest Places, as they were taken by M. Aronis Forsius and Hie­ronymus Birckholten Ann. 1600.

Longit. Latit.
Uma 38, 0. 65, 11.
Pitha 40, 0. 66, 14.
Lula 40, 30. 66, 30.
Tœrna 42, 27. 67, 0.
Kimi 42, 20. 67, 1.
Lappijærf 42, 33. 70, 9.
Antoware 44, 4. 70, 26.
Tenokijle 46, 0. 70, 50.
Porsanger 44, 2. 71, 42.
Porsanger 43, 35. 71, 35.
Lingen 37, 30. 70, 30.
Trænees 32, 30. 70, 25.
Euvenes 33, 35. 70, 0.
Titisare 37, 55. 69, 40.
Piala 41, 40. 60, 15.
Siguar 38, 35. 68, 59.
Tingwar 38, 0. 69, 40.
Rounula 39, 30. 69, 47.
Koutokrine 42, 0. 69, 17.
Waranger 45, 0. 71, 35.
Lanzord 45, 35. 71, 26.
Hwalsund 42, 40. 71, 12.
Skrisæ 38, 50. 71, 18.
Trumsæ 35, 52. 70, 55.
Andaces 32, 0. 70, 30.
Serghen 32, 20. 69, 3.
Wardhus 52, 0. 71, 55.
Norkaap. 45, 30. 72, 30.

I proceed next to the disposition and nature of the Country, having first given you a Map of it.

a Buræus in his descr. of Swedland. b Paul. Warnefrid. c Ad. Brem. Solin. c. 44.