It is said that when the Mongolian chief Genghis Kahn came to the Lyngen Alps and the western sea during his conquests to the west, he realized that this was it. This was the end of the world

In the protected landscape area, there is a number of traces of earlier settlement both by the ocean and inside the valleys. Goahti ruins from Sámi settlements, other ruins and remains of dwellings from the early stone age are among the most numerous cultural relics in immediate proximity to the protected area. The goahti ruins tell of human activity in several of the valley passes in to the massif. Very few of the ruins are dated, but dating from other areas indicates that many of them are from before the Reformation, from the Middle Ages. Many cultural relics are registered in and around Kvalvikdalen, in Lyngsdalen, on the east side of Jægervatnet, on the east side of the massif from Koppangen to Lyngstuva. In the area from Russelv to Lyngstuva, there are many stone pits and ruins that are marked and have signs.

Information sign about cultural heritage between Russelv and Lyngstuva.Photo: Oddrun Skjemstad

Swedish Sámi in Lyngen 1909. Photo: Anders Beer Wilse

The Lyngen peninsula has been a reindeer pasture for a long time. There are written sources that tell of Swedish Sámi people moving to “Iddu-njarga”, the Lyngen peninsula, dating all the way back to the 1700s. It is likely, however, that this migration has been common from much further back in time. The reason for this migration is that the reindeer seek the best pasture, all depending on the season. In 1972, Norway terminated the reindeer pasture convention with Sweden. Swedish reindeer herding could no longer access the Lyngen peninsula, but was instead directed to other pastures in inner Troms. Since then, the area has been a summer pasture for reindeer herders from Kautokeino.

The traditional full-year Sámi lifestyle on the Lyngen peninsula is Sea Sámi. The Sea Sámi lifestyle in the area was based on a combination of many kinds of industries, enabling self-sufficiency a possibility. Self-sufficiency was based on three key resources; the sea, the soil and the outlying areas.

The Kveni people who crossed the border in the 18th and 19th centuries brought their own construction techniques and language. There were also Norwegian farmers and fishermen on the resource-rich Lyngenfjord. The Norwegians who came to Lyngen in the 17th century were tradesmen, Christian missionaries and public officials. 

The historical encounter between Sámi people, Norwegians and Kveni people at Nordkalotten is called “the meeting of three tribes”.

Lyngseidet 1888. Photo: Norsk folkemuseum

Lyngstuva, Photo: Oddrun Skjemstad

Lyngaslapan has historically formed a borderland between the Russian and Danish-Norwegian joint taxation regions. When peace was made in 1326, Lyngstuva was positioned as the western border of the Novgorod Republic’s tax region. Russia could claim taxes along the coast of Norway up to Lyngstuva. Lyngsalpan has also been a borderland of great importance in modern history.

During World War 2, the Germans set up a defensive line for where they would stop the Russian advance through Norway – the Lyngen Line. Everyone north of the Lyngen Line was forcibly evacuated, and everything was burned. During the cold war, Norway re-armed this defensive line again.

The most famous incident in Lyngsalpan during World War 2 was Jan Baalsrud’s escape from the Germans. Jan Baalsrud was one of the intelligence officers in Kompani Linge (Norwegian Independent Company 1). At the end of March 1943, they had come to Troms to organise sabotage groups. They were onboard the MS Brattholm in Toftefjorden in Karlsøy when they were discovered by the Germans after having been informed on. They blew up the boat, but 3 of the crewmen on the boat were shot and 8 were taken to Tromsø to later be executed. Jan Baalsrud, the 12th man, managed to escape the Germans. He fled between 30 March to 1 June across Northern Troms and to safety in Sweden. Among other things, he passed over the mountain from Lyngseidet to Lyngsdalen. He got lost in the mountains and was caught in an avalanche in Lyngsdalen. Baalsrud was still able to get down to the residences in Furuflaten. Here he was taken in by the local populace, who then helped him get across the fjord. Baalsrud then stayed in a small hay barn by the sea, nicknamed “Hotel Savoy”, until he was transported over the mountain to Mandalen. In Mandalen, he stayed for three weeks until he could be taken to Sweden. The story of his escape is well-described in the films “Ni Liv” (“Nine Lives”) from 1957 and “Den 12. Mann” (“The 12th Man”) from 2017.

From the exhibition about Jan Baalsrud at Furuflaten. Photo: Kjellaug Grønvoll.