Hossa Värikallio Rock Paintings

Kainuu
Municipality of Suomussalmi (www.suomussalmi.fi)
Hossa National Park 
The spot is managed by Metsähallitus.


The Hossa Värikallio rock paintings are amongst the largest prehistoric rock paintings in Finland. The pictures on the rock wall rising from Lake Somerjärvi were painted in the Stone Age, i.e. about 3,500 - 4,500 years ago.

The Värikallio Rock Paintings observation new platform is now in use.

Rock Paintings - Tales from across the Ages

The rock paintings are located along a water route that was used in ancient times. They were painted from a boat or when standing on the ice of the lake. On the surface of the rock wall there are 61 separate figures depicting scenes of hunting and shamanic rituals. The paintings have probably been used for marking a route or describing events. These paintings, the only rock paintings in Kainuu, were officially found in 1977.

Prehistoric rock paintings of Värikallio. Photo: Sirke Seppänen

Routes and Hunting Magic

In ancient times, Hossa was a junction for water routes. The routes reached as far as the Gulf of Bothnia in the west and the White Sea in the east. Consequently, it is possible that the Värikallio pictures were used for marking a route or describing events. The painted rock walls found in Finland are usually located along major water ways. At Värikallio, as by several other painted rock walls, there is a strong echo.

The pictures in rock paintings are usually linked to hunting magic. Painted rock walls could also have functioned as cult places of shamanic worship. In the Hossa paintings, a human figure with antlers on its head or dressed as an animal frequently appears. These human figures may portray a witch or a shaman, as a headpiece with antlers was part of a witch's dress, at least later in times, amongst the arctic hunting peoples. Pictures may also have been painted in order to guarantee fertility. According to Pekka Kivikäs, who has studied Finnish prehistoric rock paintings, many of the human figures portrayed in Värikallio may be women, some of them in labour.

The Hossa Värikallio rock paintings are different from the other prehistoric paintings in Finland. The small, stick-like elk figures are not actually known elsewhere, and the human figure with a triangle-shaped head, eyes and nose is unique. It is exceptional that there are no boat pictures in Värikallio.

The pictures found in Finland dating from the Stone Age have been painted. There are no drawings engraved in rock in Finland. Red and yellow ochre were used as colouring agents, which were obtained by heating iron-bearing clay. Blood, grease or egg yolk has been used as the mixing agent.

Opening Hours and visiting

  • New walking bridge to Värikallio rock paintings is now in use. Photo: Sini Salmirinne / Metsähallitus Värikallio is accessible all year round.
  • The access to the paintings is free-of-charge. Theme guiding for groups is subject to a charge.
  • There are no personnel on the Värikallio Cliffs.
  • In summer there is a trail leading to the paintings, and an observation platform has been built in front of the cliffs. The walking bridge with a platform is a new one and made of steel so it's safe to walk to see the rock paintings quite closely.
  • In winter there is a skiing trail to the cliffs and a snowmobile trail nearby.

Contact Information

For more information on Värikallio Cliffs contact Hossa Visitor Centre.

Directions and Maps

Värikallio Cliffs are situated in the Hossa National Park, on the shore Lake Somerjärvi.

By Car

  • From the Hossa Visitor Centre, drive for about 3 km along the Jatkonsalmentie road, then turn on to the sandy road leading to Pisto. Drive for about 7 km and turn on to the road that leads to the Lihapyörre parking area (2 km). The Värikallio Cliffs Trail starts from the parking area. This circle trail is 8 km long.
  • In winter you can go skiing from the Umpi-Valkeinen parking area: from the Hossa Visitor Centre, turn left and drive for about 3 km along the Jatkonsalmentie road. Turn on to a road leading to Pisto and drive for about 4.5 km. The skiing trip from the Umpi-Valkeinen parking area to Värikallio and back is about 13 km.

By Public Transportation

  • The Värikallio Cliffs cannot be reached by public transport. The closest bus stop is located by the Hossa Visitor Centre, from which there is a trail to Värikallio. The distance is 15 km (one way). The skiing trail is about 29 km long (back and forth).

Maps

Trails and Services

The Värikallio Cliffs Trail

  • This eight-kilometre long circle trail starts out from the Lihapyörre parking area. Read more about the Värikallio Cliffs Trail.

A Connecting Trail from Julma-Ölkky

  • From the Julma-Ölkky parking area marks the start of a 2-km-long trail, which connects with the trail on the northern side of the Värikallio circle trail.

Cross-country Skiing Trail

  • There is a skiing trail to Värikallio, which starts out from the Hossa Visitor Centre. You can also get on to it from the Umpi-Valkeinen parking area. Read more about the Värikallio skiing trail.

Canoeing Route

  • There is also a canoeing route to Värikallio. You can start your canoeing trip from the Julma-Ölkky boat launching site.
    • Canoe south for about 2 km to the Ala-Ölkky lean-to shelter.
    • Canoe upstream past the lean-to-shelter for about 500 metres and pull the canoe for about 0.5 km along the cleared channel.
    • From the landing site there is path to a marked trail track that goes to Värikallio.
  • The is also a boat launching site on Lake Somerjärvi on the eastern side of Isosaari, from where it is about 3.5 km to Värikallio by canoe. Further information on the Julma-Ölkky - Somer - Hossa canoeing route.

The Värikallio Lapp Hut

  • At Värikallio there is a Lapp hut, a campfire place, a woodshed and a dry toilet. The old Lapp kota hut is not in use - new one is under costruction.

Café and Restaurant Services

Services for School Groups

  • The Hossa Visitor Centre serves school groups. At the visitor centre you can obtain further information, plus information on the available programme services.

Services for the Disabled

  • There are no services for the disabled at Värikallio.

 

This is the webpage www.nationalparks.fi/varikallio

Customer Service

Hossa Visitor Centre 
Tel.int. +358 (0)40 751 7221,  +358 (0)206 39 6041 
hossa(at)metsa.fi

Panorama at the Värikallio Rock Paintings


www.matkallakainuussa.fi

Värikallio brochure

Pdf-file, 3,9 Mb
(julkaisut.metsa.fi)