prehistoric people lived on both sides of the Kyro rivers lower
reaches up to Ylistaro, and the large settlements stretched from Malax
to Vörå. The history of the ancient Kyro people is well-known.
It resembled the southwest Finnish culture, but also showed traces
of Scandinavian influence. These people were well-to-do. A great many
gold articles have been found in their grave cairns. One can suppose
that they acquired this wealth through trade with the Lapps in inland
and northern Finland, principally through supplying furs to the European
market. Obviously the trading went via central Sweden and through
Tröndelag in Norway. The ancient Kyro people cultivated the ground
through burn-beating, but it is assumed that burn-beating cannot have
been the basis for their wealth.
We have knowledge of the racial
characteristics of the ancient Kyro people because of the discovery
of about 100 skeletons that were found in the Levähuhta springs
in Storkyro and in Keldomäki in Vörå. How the dead
ended up in the springs is unclear, but archaeologists think it probably
was a normal burial site.
The skeletons of the ancient
Kyro people were small young people, thought to be Lapps. Their skulls
were long and narrow, which is a deviation from the form of the Lapps
heads and their physical structure separates them from the larger
build of the Finns and Scandinavians.
One who later researched the
skeletons of the ancient Kyro people is Tarja Formisto who received
a Doctors degree at the University of Stockholm in 1993. She
completed her research that compares her own results with information
of different people who lived within a radius of 100 kilometers. The
results showed that the ancient Kyro people greatly resembled the
people who lived in central Russia, around the area of the rivers
Volga and Oka. They were of the Fatjanovo culture from the Bronze
The linguists Jorma Koivulehto
and Asko Parpola, together with archaeologist Christian Carpelan,
found that during the Bronze Age people from the Fatjanovo culture
moved to the interior of eastern Finland a people who talked
the Finno-Ugric language, but used many words that belonged to the
Aryan language group of the Indo-European language. It is thought
that some of these Aryans moved, perhaps as a [blow] to their leadership.
It is possible that during the Bronze Age a part of this folk group
came to southern Österbotten and lived there in the Iron Age
without associating much with other people. This should solve the
riddle of the origin of the ancient Kyro people. As far as I know,
genealogists do not think so.
Another riddle is the fate
of the ancient Kyro people after the 800s. Their typical grave cairns
from later times have not been found. Some archaeologists think that
all the people vanished, that is, either died out or moved away. My
own theory is that the southwestern Finns of the 800s took over the
fur trade with the northern Lapps, with the result that the ancient
Kyro people lost their source of income, their village community split
and they abandoned their old customs as well as the grave cairns.
They were reduced in number and scattered. I also think that in later
times southern Ostrobothnians, to some extent, descended from the
ancient Kyro people and thats why I have written so much about
My understanding is that the
southwestern Finns, especially the Finnish-speaking people in Egentliga
Finlands western area and in the southwestern parts of Satakunta,
or in other words, in the area of Nystad and Raumo, began trade travel
over Russia to Byzantium and the lower reaches of the Volga river
in the 800s after the time of Christ. As far as is known, at this
time the southwestern Finns had tightened trade relations with central
Later some of the southwestern
Finns, stuck down there by themselves, learned what Österbotten
had to offer. This was probably in the 900s, but more likely during
the following century when they had, via Sweden, attained a sort of
primitive Christianity. It explains why graves that were typical of
the pagan Finns have not been found.
I think that the southwestern
Finns first settled down on the southern Ostrobothnian coast in the
old inhabited area from Malax to Lillkyro and Vörå, also
in the Karleby area and especially farther north to the lower regions
of the Torneå river where they were lured by the large catches
Soon, perhaps in the 1100s,
the southwestern Finns met some competition: north of Karelia from
Ladogas receding shores south to the Tavastians who had also
began trading fur from their basic area in the southern part of present
Tavastland and Satakundas upper region, a territory that stretched
from the area of Vammala to Hollola in the east.
The Tavastians also began to
settle in southern Österbotten at the beginning of the lower
reach of the Kyro river from Lillkyro to Ylistaro, but their trade
area stretched only to the Kemi and Torneå rivers. I suppose
that the settlement of the southwestern Finns was thin in the Pedersöre
area in spite of the very favorable position because the Esse river
was the Tavastians important route to the north, and they were
not willing to allow new settlers along its shores.
Finnish population descended mostly from the Tavastians who came there
mainly from the upper part of Satakunda and the dialect there is also
a branch of the Tavast dialect. There are a great many southwestern
Finnish emigrants, and earlier there were many Swediah loan words
which showed that some of the Swedish coastal population moved to
the interior. To some extent, southern Ostrobothnians also moved to
central Österbotten and, for example, the dialect in Kaustby
and Vetil is found in some aspect of southern Österbottens
In this manner two Finnish
tribes came during the period of the 1100s to colonize a large part
of the Osterbottniska coast and part of the interior along the Kyro
river. It was also still a much thinner settlement. I think that,
as well as during the time of the ancient Kyro people, the Swedes
moved here from the Mälar district and Hälsingland; perhaps
also sellers from the western side who were involved in trade travel.
In this manner they gradually learned to know the Ostrobothnian coast
and could determine that it was a favorable area for settlement, therefore
more sparsely populated.
It is thought that the Swedes
began to realize during the 1200s, possibly during the later half
that, in addition to Åland and the archipelago of Abolands
western part that earlier was Swedish, southern Finland had its Swedish-speaking
population. According to Lars Huldéns research, the Swedes
originally lived in Österbotten mostly in the Närpes-Pedersöre
region where the Finnish population was very sparse. Colonists came
from areas where people spoke a higher Swedish dialect, for example,
from Mälardalen, Gästrikland, Hälsingland and the lower
part of Dalarna. An old name in Österbotten indicates a connection
with Hälsingland and Dalarna.
The Swedish settlement evidently
was spontaneous. The earlier idea that it was a colonization organized
by the Crown has been abandoned. In the 1200s the Swedish governing
authorities had not been able to organize such a movement. Research
has drawn conclusions that in Svealands central region of Hälsingland
and the lower part of Dalarna, there were more people than the ineffective
farming could support and therefore it was tempting to move over to
the uninhabited or more sparsely settled coastal area of Finland.
It is probable that the Church
and government did not immediately tax the new settlers who moved
to Finland. The Swedish settlement is thought to have strengthened
and broadened quickly. I think that by the 1300s it stretched to Vasa
and the Karleby region. It became more settled farther north because
the soil north of Lochteå is fertile and the climae is cooler.
The northernmost Swedish village is thought to have been Ingervik
which later merged with Maringais in Lochteå, but individual
Swedish names were also found farther north. Toward the interior of
the country the Swedes moved along from Pedersöre to Lappajärvi,
Vindala and Alajärvi, from Karleby to Röringe in Vetil.
Along the southern Osterbottniska
coast the Finnish-speaking population evidently became a minority
quickly. Old Finnish place names were found mostly in the Närpes
and Pedersöre area, so even in the Middle Ages bilingual names
were seldom found in this area. On the other side of the river traces
of Finnish name-giving were found in Malax, Mustasaari, Vörå
and Nykarleby, so this area obviously was bilingual during the Middle
Ages and later, until the Swedes took the upper hand. Laihela was
long bilingual but became Finnish later as well as in Lillkyro where
the Finnish settlement was strong from the beginning.
The Karleby region has always
been bilingual and growth changed from village to village. Kronoby
and Terjärv (originally Tervajärvi) became Swedish quickly,
while Karleby and Nedervetil became Swedish slowly and incompletely,
and then Finnish again took over in Vetil and Kelviå and also
later in Kaustby. Everyone who descended from the population in the
greater Karleby parish has Finnish as well as Swedish-speaking ancestors.
When I researched my own family that descended from Torp, I have established
that most of my family in middle Österbotten is Swedish-speaking,
the minority is Finnish-speaking, yet most of my nearest family is
The last of the old agricultural
district settlements is in Österbottens southern part from
Savolax in the 1500s. There the population that specialized in burn-beating
spread out extensively. People came later who spoke the Savolax dialect
from Central Finland. Numerous Savolaxers dwelled in the 1500s in
the southern Ostrobothnian lake district: in Kortesjärvi, Evijärvi,
Vindala and also on the farther islands. Some settled in Perho and
Lestijärvi and in the upper part of Kalajoki. Near the coast
there were fewer people because less people came there.
In the dialect spoken in central
Österbottens coastal parishes characteristics of Savolax
dialect is found, but according to Paavo Suihkonens research,
the structure of this dialect is much like the old southwestern Finnish.
Some characteristics of the Savolax dialect has come into the language
because they have been easy to speak; in the region very few Savolaxers
have been found.
I did not deal with the later
period of the Osterbottniska settlements. But already it has shown
that the old population in central Österbottens southern
area, that is, Pedersöre and Karleby, first descended from the
southwestern Finns and Swedes, while the share of Tavastians and Savolaxers
is relatively small except that in the more alienated inland villages
where the Savolax people moved it is more evident. Not to be forgotten
are the few Lapps who were left in the interior and the possibility
that a drop of the mysterious ancient Kyro people is found in us.
translated to English by June
This article is included in the Caino-Torp-book.
In Swedish Huvuddragen
i Österbottens äldre bosättningshistoria
Related pages on this