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Rock carvings at Hjemmeluft in Alta, Alta Museum, Norway Photo: Kjersti Bang
Photo: Kjersti Bang
Photo: Johan Wildhagen/www.visitnorway.com
Photo: visitnorway.com
Photo: visitnorway.com
Photo: visitnorway.com
Photo: visitnorway.com

Rock carvings Alta

The UNESCO-protected rock carvings in Alta, Finnmark, bear witness to human activity in Northern Norway already in the prehistoric period.

This group of rock carvings in Northern Norway bears the traces of a settlement dating from c. 4200 to 500 B.C. It constitutes the most important piece of evidence documenting the existence of human activity on the fringes of the Far North in prehistoric times - hence its status as a UNESCO world heritage site.

The first petroglyphs were discovered in the 1960s. Since then thousands of paintings and engravings have been found at some 45 sites in the region, the largest of them at Hjemmeluft, the only area open to the public. This is where the Alta Museum is situated. Approximately 3,000 figures have been found here.

Alta Museum

Alta Museum consists of an open air museum, where visitors follow a well-marked path and boardwalk to view the rock carvings, and an excellent indoor exhibition explaining the rock art and giving a broader introduction to Finnmark's prehistory. The exhibition also shows how, in the Sámi religion, nature was regarded as possessing a soul and being alive. The museum has other exhibits – you can also learn for example more about the northern lights. A shop and a cafeteria can be found on site.

Guided walks

There are guided walks in English every day in July at 12 noon. For guided walks in groups in other languages than English, you must book in advance. The tour lasts about 45 minutes.

Rock art figures

The rock carvings in Alta indicate that this was a religious meeting place in the late Stone Age and early Metal Age, and depict some of the beliefs held by the people from the coast and inland regions, who gathered here several times a year, probably in connection with seasonal, nomadic journeys, and performed ritual ceremonies. 

Hewn into the massive and hard sandstone using one stone as a chisel and another stone or an antler as a hammer, the rock carvings testify of aculture of hunter-gatherers who controlled herds of reindeer, built boat and fences, used tools and fishing equipment, and performed ritual ceremonies involving bear worship, as well as other sacred animals. The Sámi gods are also depicted on the Runebommen (magic drum).

Getting there

By highway E6 at Hjemmeluft, at the western end of town, two and a half kilometres from Bossekop if you approach Alta from the southwest. A local bus connects Alta bus station with the Alta Museum and the rock carving area. From Alta Airport it is eight kilometres.

For more information about the UNESCO-protected rock carvings and the other seven sites in Norway inscribed on the World Heritage List, see whc.Unesco.org 

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Last updated:  2012-12-19
Not all rock carvings in Alta, Norway, were marked in red - Photo: Kjersti Bang
Not all rock carvings in Alta, Norway, were marked in red
The UNESCO-listed rock carvings in Alta, Finnmark, will impress visitors of all ages - Photo: Kjersti Bang
The UNESCO-listed rock carvings in Alta, Finnmark, will impress visitors of all ages

Interest:  Cultural heritage, Arctic Norway, UNESCO

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Rock carvings at Hjemmeluft in Alta, Alta Museum, Norway - Photo: Kjersti Bang

Rock carvings Alta

The UNESCO-protected rock carvings in Alta, Finnmark, bear witness to human activity in Northern Norway already in the prehistoric period.

Rock carvings Alta

Source: Visitnorway

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