Davi Rodrigues at Stiehpaltjåhkkå – a mountain with downy birch forest north of the western end of the lake Sädvvájávrre where the Arctic Circle crosses the Silver Road. Photo Maria Söderberg


Please take a look at the map of Lapland!
There´s a lot of exciting names.
Top of Arjeplog trying to tell you more
about their meaning from the sami language.
Here´s a couple of them
written by Ann-Charlotte Sjaggo.

Where to find a mountain on the map? Check here: kso.etjanster.lantmateriet.se ”Lantmäteriet” map the country. Fjällkartan scale of 1: 100,000 covering the mountain area from Salen to the south to the boundary in the north. It is available both as a digital image and printed map.


Áhkális (~Áhkalisbuavvda): a low mountain with a treeless summit 784 m a.s.l. on the isthmus between Hornavan, Tjårvek and Ajsjávrre, Assjjávvre. Directly south of the mountain are the lakes Áhkálisjávrre, Áhkálisjávvre and Varrajávrre, Varrajávvre. The mountain has a strategic location and a marvellous view in all directions. Áhkalis~Áhkalisbuavvda was recorded by Wallström in 1939, by Grundström in 1935 and by Pellieff in 1958 as “Akkelis”, “Akkalis”, “Akkalispouta” and “Akkelisbuoda”. Áhkalis~Áhkalisbuavvda is a deri-vation from áhkka:áhka ‘goddess:goddesses’, to which the addition of the ending lis gives a different meaning, although we do not know what that is in this case. In Sami belief there were several goddesses such as Saráhkká, Juksáhkká, Uksáhkká and Maddaráhkká. The name Áhkalis~Áhkalisbuavvda indicates that it is a holy mountain dedicated to the goddesses, and it is conceivable that there was a place on the mountain where offerings were made. The final element (Lule Sami) buovdda, (Pite Sami) buavvda ‘mountain that is treeless at the summit’ is dropped in everyday speech. Buavvda serves to describe the character of the mountain as being located in forested land but having no trees at the top.

Ájlisvárre (Ájlesvárre): a mountain 720 m a.s.l. with a treeless summit west of the Maddávvre lakes and north of Ájlisjávrre, Ájlesjávvre. This height forms a delimited peninsula with water to the east, south and north. There is a known offering place on the mountain. A farm with the same name is located under the west end of the mountain on the shore of Suobddekjávrre, Suäbbdekjávvre. The mountain and the farm were recorded by Wallström (1941) and Grundström (1935). The settlement was established after 1867 (Bylund 1956:428). The name goes back to ájles ‘holy’ and várre ‘(low) mountain’. The form of the name indicates that this mountain was regarded as holy and that there was an offering place on it.

Gállabuovdda July, 17 2017. Photo Maria Söderberg

Gállábuovdda (Gállábuavvda): a low mountain with forest around it, 780 m a.s.l., at the western edge of the mountain area of Gárdvárre south of the river Pite Älv, Bihtámädno, Bidumiedno, north-east of the lake Gállájávrre, Gállájávvre. The name is not included in the register of place names. It is uncertain what the first element Gállá means. A similar-sounding term gállo means ‘forehead’, ‘cool weather in the summer’ and ‘large stone’. All three meanings are possible as a background to this name. Buavvda:buovda means ‘treeless, round mountain top in forest’, a description that fits Gállábuavvda well. The background to the first element is obscure.

Gautoberget: a mountain about 680 m a.s.l., north of the village of Gautosjö and the lake Gautosjö, Gávttojávrre (Lule Sami), Gavtuojávrrie (Ume Sami) after Lájsso (Ume Sami), Laisälven. Downstream Gautsosjö, Gavtuojávrrie flows into Märkforsen (Muättkegårrtjå (Pite Sami)). Gautosjö, Gavtojávrrie is linked by a sound to its upper half, called Gasskajavrre (Lule Sami), where gasska means ‘in between’ and therefore the lake has been translated into Swedish by the name Mittisjön. The lake, but not the mountain, was recorded in the register of place names by Grundström in 1935 and Wallström in 1939. Collinder states that gaut comes from kuou’ta ‘(located in the) middle’ (Collinder 1962:104). The first element in Gautsosjö, Gavtuojávrrie thus goes back to gavtuo ‘middle’, indicating that this lake is located in between two other parts of the water system. The counterpart to this term is guävvde in Pite Sami and gavtuo in Ume Sami. In other words, Gautosjö, Gavtuojávrrie and Gasskajávrre (Lule Sami) all indicate that this lake is in the middle, in between. In this case the mountain has received its name from its location beside Gautosjö, Gavtuojávrrie. Today the mountain has a second element that is Swedish, berget, corresponding to the Sami várre ‘mountain’.

Gibdnotjåhkkå: a mountain 718 m a.s.l., north-west of Gibdnoluokta, Gibdnoluakkta at the southern shore of Tjeggelvas/Tjieggelvas and just north of the lower peak Uhtsa Gibdno. The name was recorded by Wickman in 1941 and Grundström in 1934 with the statement that the peak is also called “Stuor Kibdna”. In other words, Gibdnotjåhkkå is also known under the name Stuor Gibdno, to be compared with the smaller peak to the west, Uhtsa Gibdno. The mountain was probably named for its proximity to Gibdnoluokta, Gibdnoluakkta. Gibdno:gibno is one of several Pite Sami dialectal variants of gäbbne:giebne~gibmu:gimu which means ‘cauldron, pot’. Giebnne:giebne is the Lule Sami equivalent. Gibdnoluokta, Gibdnoluakkta, can be considered to resemble a cauldron in shape, and this is the likely background to the name. Tjåhkkå means ‘peak’.

Lájsovárre/Laisvikberget: a mountain 705 m a.s.l. on the peninsula with Laisviken to the south and Hornavan, Tjårvek to the north. Below the slope of the mountain is the village of Norra Laisvik. The name of the mountain was recorded in the register of place names by Wallström in 1939 in the forms “Laisvare”, Laisvikberget and “Laisåivatj”. The first element is the same as in the names of features to the south: the river Laisälven, Lájsso (Ume Sami) and the Laisdalen valley. The meaning is uncertain. Várre indicates that it is a ‘mountain’.

Ruopsok: a ledge with sharp edges 1,382 m a.s.l., just south of the summit of the mountain Tjidtjákgájsse, Tjidtjákgájjse (1586 m a.s.l.) in the range north-east of Vuoggatjålmjávrre, Vuoggatjålmjávvre (Tjidtják-gájsse, Tjidtjákgájjse is now and has historically been the central mountain for the Sami village of Semisjaur-Njarg). The name, which has no second element, was recorded by Grundström in 1934 as “Ruöpsok”. Ruopsok means ‘young reindeer calf (during the first weeks of life when the skin changes to reddish-brown)’. The closely related term rupsuk means ‘red, reddish-brown’. In this case the name may confirm that the mountain is an important calving area as part of the “mother mountain” Tjidtják (tjidtje ‘mother, woman’s breast, teat’).

Stiehpaltjåhkkå: a mountain with downy birch forest on the summit 684 m a.s.l. north of the western end of the lake Sädvvájávrre, Säddvájávvre where the Arctic Circle crosses the Silver Road. West of the peak the lake narrows to a bay called Stuorsavvun (Storselet) and Lillselet (Unna savvun). The name was recorded as “Stehpalvaratj” by Wickman in 1942 and as “Stiepalvärtutj” by Grundström in 1934. Grundström, commenting on the very similar first element in another name, says that “stahpal” means ‘pile of stones’. Collinder states that “stáhpal” or “stáhpul” designates a ‘stony river bed’ (Collinder 1964:208). Collinder takes as an example of the use of the term “stáhpal” the mountain Stiehpaltjåhkkå, which he says can also be called “Stáhpartjohkko”. According to a Pite Sami glossary, stiehpál means ‘narrow, wedge-shaped bay’ and the Lule Sami dictionary says that stáhpal means ‘stony stream or river channel’. The recorded forms “varatj”  ‘little mountain’ and “värtutj”  ‘little mountain with a good view’ indicate that it is a low mountain, whereas tjåhkkå is a designation for a ‘treeless peak’. It is uncertain why the form tjåhkkå was used to name this birch-clad mountain. It is also obscure why the Pite Sami and the Lule Sami dictionaries have two different meanings for this word which, despite differences in the vowels, is the same word. Based on Collinder’s statement, it is probable that the first element derives from stáhpal and tells us that the bottom of the bay, or where the water from Vuoggatjålmjávrre, Vuoggatjålmjávvre flows into the bay, is stony and therefore difficult to ford. This type of information was valuable at a time when people had to travel on foot and ford streams.

Jurunvaratj: a mountain 890 m a.s.l. close to the Norwegian border at Jurunjávrre, Jurunjávvre beside the river Seldutjåhkå (the upper part of the Skellefteälven). The name was recorded by Grundström in 1934 with the addition of  “Jårrom” as an alternative form. The first element could be juru ‘loud noise, roar’ (Collinder 1964:72), referring to the sound of the Seldutjåhkå which pours out of the lake Jurunjávrre, Jurunjávvre. Várátj means ‘little mountain’ and Jurunvárátj can perhaps be regarded as small in relation to the high mountains around it, although it is in itself relatively high.

Veälbmábuovđđa (Ume Sami): a wooded mountain with a treeless summit, 710 m a.s.l., east of the sound Välbmá (Pite Sami), an eastern bay of Uddjaur, Ujják~Ujjávvre (Pite Sami). The name was recorded by Grundström in 1935 as “Viellmapuauda” and Välbmapuoda”, with the information that the name means ‘bare mountain’. The name has an Ume Sami form on today’s map (lantmateriet.se). The Pite Sami counterpart is Välbmábuavvda, which is composed of the first element vielmes:vällmá (Lule Sami), vielmes:välbmá (Pite Sami), which means ‘stretch of smooth water’, and buovdda:buovda (Lule Sami), buavvda:buovda (Pite Sami) ‘peak with forest around it’. The first element is rendered in the genitive välbmá and the second element in the nominative buavvda, and thus the name means ‘the peak by the smooth water’. When the name was bestowed, the stretch of smooth water was the central feature and the mountain was described for its location beside the water. Otherwise it is often the other way around, that mountains are characteristic features in the landscape and thus give names to places around them. One theory as to why the stretch of smooth water provided the name may be that it was a sensational new formation between 1000 and 1500 years ago and was more important as an orientation point than the mountain.  


Erik Bylund, Koloniseringen av Pite lappmark t.o.m. år 1867, Uppsala 1956
Björn Collinder, Ordbok till Sveriges lapska ortnamn, Uppsala 1964
Ann-Charlotte Sjaggo, Pitesamisk grammatik – en jämförande studie med lulesamiska, Senter for samiske studier nr 20, Tromsø 2015.
Dictionary: Korhonen Olavi, Báhkogirjje – julevsámes dárruj-dáros julevsábmáj, lulesamisk svensk-svensk lulesamisk ordbok, Boden 2005
Wilbur Joshua, red., Pitesamisk ordbok med stavningsregler, Freiburg 2016