Hidden treasures, busy marketplace and old trading routes

Permanent Exhibitions

There has probably been a market in Alta since the end of the 15th century. In 1836 the market became an "official" fixture. It was held twice a year, in December and March, and each market lasted three days.

The Bossekop Market - cultural meetingplace.
The Bossekop Market - cultural meetingplace. Photo: Olmar Egenæs/Alta Museum

The Bossekop market was the main market for the sales of the products of the mountain Sami people (reindeer hides, reindeer meat, grouse and so on). In 1875 there was a turnover of 120,000 kroner, the equivalent of 6,500.000 kroner in today's money.

Sami communities along the coast and in the fjords traded fish at the market. They did business with tradesmen from Hammerfest, Tromsø and Finland, trading their fish in exchange for textiles, salt, butter, flour, tobacco and coffee. The reconstruction in the exhibition shows the December market in Bossekop in 1906.   

Silver treasures.
Silver treasures. Photo: Bjørnar Johansen and Ann-Silje Ingebrigtsen/Alta Museum

Hidden treasures and jewellery tell us about the contact Alta had with the rest of the world in olden times: The exhibition has the oldest metal object found in Alta, a brooch from the 6th century which was discovered in Kviby in 1999.

— The exhibition has the oldest metal object found in Alta, a brooch from the 6th century which was discovered in Kviby in 1999.

One of the largest neck-rings that we know of from the Viking Age is from Lathari in Alta. It may have been buried as an offering to the gods 1000 years ago. From the same period we have the fine bronze pieces of women's jewellery which a woman may have taken with her from Estonia to Årøya in Alta. The oldest coins that we know of from Alta were found on the beach at Lathari in 2013-2014. They were coined in Canterbury and London in 1302 -1310 during the reigns of Edward I and Edward II.

Neck-ring from the Viking Age found in Alta.
Neck-ring from the Viking Age found in Alta. Photo: Bjørnar Johansen/Alta Museum

Northern Norway's largest silver treasure find, the "Gakori treasure," was found by two young girls in a fissure in the rocks not far from the present-day Alta Museum in 1942. The richly decorated jewellery may have been made by a silversmith in Bergen in the 17th century.

The silver treasure found in Gakori.
The silver treasure found in Gakori. Photo: Bjørnar Johansen/Alta Museum

A bag containing silver coins was found by a churchyard warden in Talvik in 1983. It had belonged to a wealthy priest who died suddenly in a storm at sea in 1723. His wife knew that he had buried 13 bags of silver coins, but after his death she only found 12 of them.