Place of Memory
Welcome to the National Land Survey of Finland’s history website, www.mapscroll.fi. This site will take you through five centuries of land survey in Finland, describing their impact on the land and its inhabitants. The www.mapscroll.fi website is the memory of land survey.
You can access the Archive Centre and the Land Surveying Museum from these pages. Whether you are a traveller, scientist, student or land survey professional, or just interested in the subject, www.mapscroll.fi is your window to the multi-faceted world of land survey.
Measure of Land
The Measure of Land is an online exhibition on the history of land survey which takes you on a journey through the multifaceted world of land survey. It illustrates the role land survey has played in Finnish society and strives to answer the question: what is the measure of land?
Visit the image bank on this page to view the images shown on the Mapscroll.fi website, including historical photos and maps.
View the Struve Geodetic Arc on the map
Six of the station points selected for protection are located in Finland: Stuor-oivi (now known as Stuorrahanoaivi) near the Norwegian border; Avasaksa (Aavasaksa) and Tornea (Alatornio church) in western Lapland; Puolakka (Oravivuori) in Korpilahti; Porlom II (Tornikallio) at Porlammi in Lapinjärvi; and Svartvira (Mustaviiri) in the Pyhtää archipelago.
Take a closer look at the station points with Google Maps. You can also open the map in its own window.
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68°40'57'' N, 22°44'45'' E
The Struve Geodetic Arc is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Six of the station points selected for protection are located in Finland, one of them at the summit of the Stuorrahanoaivi fell in Enontekiö (the original name of the station point is Stuor-oivi). The first point at Stuorrahanoaivi was measured in 1850 and the second one in 1852. Both points were carved into the stone in the form of a cross. Norway made Stuorrahanoaivi part of its triangulation network in 1895, at which time the original point carved into the rock was replaced with a more easily-visible metal bolt.
Stuorrahanoaivi and the Mustaviiri island are the only station points in Finland that are off the beaten track. Visitors to Stuorrahanoaivi should be prepared for a day’s hike: it is a good 10-kilometre walk from both the Enontekiö-Kautokeino and the Muonio-Kilpisjärvi roads.
The surroundings at the point are still as open and suitable for observations as in Struve’s days. The Stuorrahanoaivi station point has been one Finland's main geodetic station points since the measurements for the Struve Geodetic Arc. A first class triangulation point was set at almost the same spot in 1970, only 7.6 metres north of the point Struve measured.
66°23'52'' N, 23°43'31'' E
The Aavasaksa station point (Avasaksa) was measured in 1845. Originally marked with crosses carved into the rock, the point can now be seen under the observation tower built in 1969 at the highest point of the hill.
The members of the expedition taking the measurements for the Struve Geodetic Arc prepared detailed reports on their work: the Aavasaksa station point was marked with three crosses, one of which was the actual centre mark. The second mark was measured 2.4 pieds (0.77 metres) west of the centre mark and the third one 3.2 pieds (1.04 metres) east of the centre mark.
Before Struve’s expedition, Aavasaksa had already achieved fame for the measurements taken in the 1730s by the Frenchman Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis. Maupertuis, too, wished to prove that the Earth was flattened at the poles. However, his expedition did not leave any permanent markings at the site.
Maupertuis lauded Aavasaksa as the most beautiful spot on the Torne river, and it has since then been known for its natural splendour and the midnight sun. The surveyors who chose Aavasaksa as an observation point did not do so because of its natural beauty but rather for the practical reason that it offered excellent visibility to other points.
65°49'48'' N, 24°09'26'' E
The point located at the Alatornio church bell-tower (Tornea) was measured in 1842. Carvings from the time are still visible on the inside walls of the bell platform.
The present church in Alatornio is the third to be built on the same spot. The first church stood until 1316. The oldest parts of the present church may originate from the 15th century, although some sources date them back to 1551.
The top of the bell-tower rises some 40 metres above sea level, making it a natural place for triangulation: the tower offered unimpeded sight of other station points. The bell-tower has been used for triangulation since Struve’s days and it is still one of the town of Tornio’s station points.
The expedition led by Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, who were measuring the shape of the Earth, had also travelled in the Torne river valley in the 1730s. De Maupertuis used the tower of the church on the Sungari island, built in the 17th century, as a measurement point.
61°55'36'' N, 25°32'01'' E
The point located at the summit of Oravivuori (Puolakka) was measured in 1834 and marked in the rock with a drill. Since the measurements for the Struve Geodetic Arc, Oravivuori has been one the main geodetic station points in Finland. The Finnish Geodetic Institute (FGI) set a first class triangulation point at Oravivuori in 1930, just 43 centimetres from the point measured by Struve's expedition.
A triangulation tower erected by the National Land Survey (NLS) stood at the site until the mid-1980s, by which time GPS satellite measurements had superseded triangulation. The Finnish Geodetic Institute also used Oravivuori for stellar triangulation from 1969 to 1987. A triangulation tower erected jointly by the NLS and the FGI now stands at the site as a reminder of its significance in the development of mapping in Finland.
In Struve’s time, Oravivuori offered an unimpeded view in all directions. Although the area has otherwise been preserved unchanged, a forest now partially obscures Struve's views.
60°42'17'' N, 26 °00' 12'' E
One of the six Finnish station points of the Struve Geodetic Arc selected for protection is located at the summit of Tornikallio in Lapinjärvi. The Porlammi station point (Porlom II) was measured in 1833 and marked in the rock with a drill. It has been one Finland's main geodetic station points since the measurements for the Struve Geodetic Arc.
The Finnish Geodetic Institute measured a first class triangulation point at the same site in 1922, about 64.5 metres from the point measured by Struve. A triangulation tower later erected by the National Land Survey stood at the site until the mid-1980s, when GPS satellite measurements had superseded triangulation.
In Struve’s days Tornikallio offered an unimpeded view in all directions. A forest has partially obscured the view, yet Tornikallio remains a popular observation point.
60°16'35'' N, 26°36'12'' E
The Mustaviiri (Svartvira) point was measured in 1833 and marked in the rock with a drill. Mustaviiri is a rocky island in the Gulf of Finland some 30 kilometres from the town of Loviisa.
Mustaviiri, also known by its Swedish name Svartvira, has been once of the main geodetic station points in Finland since the measurements for the Struve Geodetic Arc. The Finnish Geodetic Institute set a first class triangulation point at the site in 1930.
The island is part of the Eastern Gulf of Finland National Park, where members of the public can roam freely. A path leads from the landing site to the measurement point.
Importance of Land
An esoteric science, or just dull fiddling with numbers? Land surveying may seem like an obscure branch of science, but it is actually very much present in our daily lives. We use land survey information and geographical data every day without paying much attention to the fact. The examples found on this page were designed as tools for teachers and to provide insightful learning experiences.
This page contains learning material designed to help you consider what land means for all of us. Teachers of various subjects can use the exercises to demonstrate the practical relevance of the topic at hand.