Skoltebyen in Neiden was originally the old summer settlement of the Eastern (Skolt) Saami in this part of Finnmark. When the establishment of national borders in the 19th Century forced them to choose which country they preferred to live in, it became their permanent settlement. It thus became the main settlement of the westernmost siida (the fundamental unit of the old Saami society, indicating both the area as well as the family group(s) exploiting it) of the Eastern Saami and has remained relatively unchanged, leaving numerous traces of earlier use of the area intact.
General view of Neiden. Photo: Arve Kjersheim, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research
Protection order adopted by the King in Council in September 2000
Area: ca 230 700 m2
The Eastern Saami form a minority group among the Saami and are distinct from other groups in a number of ways. There are differences between their language and other forms of Saami, and Russian culture has had a strong influence on the Eastern Saami. They have for instance belonged to the Russian Orthodox faith ever since the 1500s.
The protected area in Skoltebyen includes a number of different monuments, some of which are old enough (i.e. more than 100 years) to be automatically protected under the Cultural Heritage Act. These include a Russian Orthodox graveyard, the ruins of a so-called smoke sauna, sixteen sites of traditional turf huts known as gammer and a tiny (only 13 m2) Russian Orthodox chapel, St. Georg's Chapel. In addition, many of the natural features of the area have been and are being used in religious ceremonies, such as baptism.
The formal protection (scheduling) of the settlement was carried out in order to safeguard its historical and religious importance as well as the integrity of the landscape. This is the most important cultural heritage site for the Eastern Saami and their surviving culture in Norway. The protection order was issued in order to prevent the area from being developed in a way that would reduce its significance and cultural value, while at the same time encouraging use that will communicate, maintain and develop the Eastern Saami culture. The protection order does not affect the commercial salmon fishing in the Neiden River nor other commercial activities in the area.