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Mills of Finland

A note on Finland from Rex and Auvo



Toe mill in Karttula, Savo, with people on and around the tailpole
Toe mill in Karttula, Savo, with people on and around the tailpole

Several thousand kilometres have been covered in south-west Finland, by rail, bus and private car, over roads ranging from among the best … seen down to quite the reverse. The very beautiful countryside has a high proportion of spruce, fir and silver birch forests, with glacial moraines forming ridges which are as much a natural feature of the country as the lakes. Many of the arable fields are divided into strips by drainage ditches, and agriculture can be carried out on a large scale only in limited areas. The forests are a national asset, extremely well looked after, and in places the cut timber, stacked along the roadside awaiting shipment to the saw mills, is a sight not to be forgotten.

With so much forest, inevitably the mills are mainly timber-built with the minimum of iron used in their construction. They are therefore both liable to rapid decay when abandoned, and easy to remove and re-erect for preservation. With such a large area only able to support a sparse rural population, distances between towns are considerable. The largest administrative unit is the province, of which there are twelve; next comes the parish which can be in the north-east as large as the English county of Rutland, and in the south-west very much smaller. Finally, there are villages and isolated settlements, which in many cases are some distance away even from a hamlet. There are a surprising number of open air museums organised by parishes; the best are quite excellent and, as will be seen, in a number of cases these include a mill.