Part of the Savemäki Iron Age cemetery in Soukainen, Laitila. Photo: Kaisa Lehtonen
The ruins of Kuusisto Castle in Kaarina. Photo: Kaisa Lehtonen
|Archaeological sites where maintenance measures have been carried out are multifaceted attractions that can be utilized for education, tourism, and recreation. However, since archaeological sites are unique and irreplaceable, their protection and preservation are the primary considerations when planning site use.
Archaeological sites have the potential to be a natural part of history education. Perceiving the past is easier in the genuine environment than in the classroom. The landscape around the archaeological site, its vegetation, and its history form an integrated whole that provides an opportunity for a wide perspective in education. Archaeological sites can thus be exploited not only by history classes but also in studies of the environment, local history, culture and art, geography, and biology. Good quality educational material makes it easier to absorb information. Hands-on experience of, for example, ancient working methods or surveying and drawing plans of the archaeological structures is the most efficient way of learning. Guides that tell the story of the archaeological site in vivid detail ensure that the message is remembered.
There are a large number of interesting archaeological sites in Finland that can be taken advantage of in tourism and recreation. For example Käräjämäki in Eura, Linnanmäki in Porvoo, and Rapola in Valkeakoski are familiar tourist attractions. Archaeological sites are often included in various cultural and nature tourism trails and routes. Specific ancient monument trails for schoolchildren and other special groups can also be designed. A number of different projects aiming to promote and develop the use of archaeological sites as tourist attractions are in progress.
Marks and signposts are necessary to guide the visitors to the site. Parking spaces and rest areas are also needed next to the site. When planning the location of the structures, it must be remembered that they may not damage the archaeological remains. Tracks and trails, for example, should be planned so that the harm to vegetation and the ground surface is minimized. The location of the structures should be chosen so as not to mar the landscape. They should also conform to the existing building style in the neighbourhood. It is important to keep the structures in good condition to maintain the general appearance and safety of the area. The organization of the emptying of trash containers should receive special attention already in the planning stage.
Reconstructions are a good way to make prehistory more vivid. They must, however, conform to certain standards, that is, they must be based on reliable analysed data. Reconstructions may not be built on top of the archaeological site, and it must be possible to distinguish between reconstructions and the genuine archaeological structures. It is important to keep the reconstructions in good condition, and their maintenance expenses should be calculated already in the original planning budget.
So far there is little experience in Finland about the commercial use of archaeological sites. Forms of commercial use may include, for example, arranging guided tours for visitors, or arranging events at the archaeological sites. There is nothing to prevent commercial use, as long as it does not cause any harm to the site and is approved by the land-owner.
The most attractive characteristics of each region should be the starting point when preparing an archaeological site for the market. From the point of view of tourism it is essential to make sure that the site has the necessary infrastructure, such as signposts and rest areas. In Finland the value of archaeological sites is high especially when connected with activity and experience vacationing. In addition to visiting the site, the product can include a visit to a related exhibition, or programmed activities, such as hands-on experience of ancient working methods. The sale of produce related with the archaeological site can be arranged nearby. The economic value of well marketed archaeological sites is multiplied by the fact that they bring profit also to the surrounding region as visitors use its restaurant and hotel services.