The underwater Suomenlinna

The underwater Suomenlinna

The underwater cultural landscape and cultural heritage are an essential part of the sea fortress. The relics of human activity that lie beneath the surface are called the underwater cultural heritage. The underwater cultural heritage is everything that has been left, built or lost on the ocean floor as a result of human activities. Together with the underwater environment, the relics form an underwater cultural landscape.

The underwater cultural heritage of Suomenlinna

The fortress, which was founded in 1748, and the waters surrounding it, have accumulated a lot of traces of human activity. The cold and low-sodium Baltic sea has preserved the objects in Suomenlinna’s waters, ranging from household waste to ammunition, from wrecks to kick sleds, and from bicycles to massive underwater dam structures.

Shipwrecks can be found in the waters surrounding Suomenlinna, the oldest of which dates back to the 17th century. The majority of the ancient relics are wooden shipwrecks, but there are also several metal-hulled wrecks. The fortress has switched masters twice during its history. Unfortunately, in the process the oral history and the historical records of the underwater landscape have been lost. This is why the archaeological wrecks that have been preserved under the water are a valuable link to the past.

Under the water of Artillery Bay, lies the world’s biggest underwater log crib dam, 100 metres wide and 12 metres high. The purpose of the dam was to protect the repair yard that the Russian Baltic Fleet was planning to build on Suomenlinna. Following Finland’s independence in 1917, the project was never completed and the dam remained on the seabed.

Suomenlinna sometimes arranges seminars and lectures related to its underwater cultural heritage, which will be announced in the calendar. Go to calendar. On YouTube, you can watch the 2021 lecture in English. Go to YouTube.

Conservation of underwater cultural heritage

Image: Minna Koivikko Finnish Heritage Agency

The Finnish Heritage Agency is responsible for the conservation of the underwater relics together with the Finnish coast guard. The Antiquities Act also protects underwater relics, and old shipwrecks are protected on the basis of age. The Ancient Relics Register held by Finnish Heritage Agency has data on over 2,000 underwater finds, 800 of which are protected. The data are available in the Cultural Environment Services’ portal in Finnish. Go to the portal.

Marine archaeologists study the underwater world and mediate the information from below the surface. The research on Suomenlinna’s underwater cultural heritage dates back to the 1970s, which was the boom period for underwater exploration. Throughout the years, the Finnish Heritage Agency’s archives have accumulated significant documentation concerning the diverse landscape that is full of the traces of human activity. Read more about underwater cultural heritage on the Finnish Heritage Agency’s website.

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