Hiidenkirnut – the Devil's Churns, or Giant's cauldrons are big holes in rocks, formed 10,000 years ago. The holes look like they have been drilled, because they are very smooth on the inside. Finland has more than a hundred of those, and the largest one is Devil's Soup Bowl – it is 8 meters wide and 15 meters deep.
There are 14 Devil's churns on the slopes of Sukulanrakka at Rautiosaari south of Rovaniemi, Lapland. They were created as a result of erosion by streams of water in the end of the Ice Age – the water “drilled” the holes with the help of big stones, while it was carrying them through the meltwater tunnels in the bottom of the glacier. By twisting and twirling through the tunnels, the stones polished the walls to perfection, leaving helical tracks. Naturally, this process was accompanied by a cacophony of roar and rattle coming from the underground, that's why the name, Devil's churns, fits so well.
Some potholes were given names according to their shapes: a frying pan, an armchair, a pear, a cast-iron pot, and some were named more poetically, like White River Fire or Red Flower, Big Demon's Hide or Bishop Hemming's Churn.
These mysterious churns have all kinds of folk tales connected to them. One of the popular legends tells about Hiisi - the Devil, who haunted the area back then. When he heard about a Swedish bishop coming to convert the locals into Christianity, he collected a huge pile of rocks, stones and arrows, and dug out a deep hole in the bare rock to sit there in ambush. While Hiisi sat there, he also managed to prepare a deadly potion to use against the bishop and his crew. Unfortunately, Hiisi was defeated by the brave guards of the bishop and fled westwards to Kemijoki River, dropping some boulders on his way.
The Devil's churns were first explored in 1966-67, and debris of thousands of years were cleared away with the help of local volunteers. Nowadays, the churns contain mostly water. Some visitors throw coins into the holes and make a wish (maybe in hopes that Hiisi will hear them).
Locals of Rautiosaari take care of the Devil's churns, and you can even rent a nice cosy Devil's hut to stay and explore this amazing area.