Putting the Hype into Hyperborea
Article published on 19 May 2022

by Abacus


On 30th April 2022, followers of FaceBook group Fraudulent Archaeology Wall of Shame were intrigued to see an item dated a few days previously concerning a find of two very ancient pyramids pre-dating even those of Giza.

But these pyramids were not in Egypt: they were said to be in the Kola Peninsula, Murmansk, Russia, north of the Arctic Circle.

A few observations, some slightly mocking, followed on the Facebook site. One contributor suggested that perhaps this question would be of interest to the “Bosnian Pyramid guy” (i.e., Semir Osmanagic). Another added that this part of the world had at one time been of some interest in Soviet fringe science circles …

Kola Peninsula

Despite its remoteness, the Kola Peninsula has been inhabited since antiquity. There is evidence of settlement in the north of the peninsula (Rybachy Peninsula) during the 7th–5th millennium BCE, and of later settlement by peoples from the south (Karelia).

For the last millennium or so, however, the Kola Peninsula has been settled almost exclusively by the Sámi, [1] a reindeer-herding people.

The last 150 years have seen the growth of scientific interest in the region, and – despite the unwelcoming nature of its Arctic terrain – many expeditions.

In 1887 [2] a Finnish geologist, Wilhelm Ramsay (1865-1928) - whose companions included a student of surveying, Alfred Gustav Petrelius (fi) (1863-1931) - visited the region, including the area of Lake Seydozero. The expedition made some important mineralogical and geological discoveries.

Some thirty-five years later, in 1922, the colourful (ru) [3] Alexander Barchenko [4] (1881-1938) led another expedition there. Barchenko had close links with Stalin’s OGPU, and, until his execution in the purges of 1938, maintained an interest in areas such as the religion and the occult. Although any notes from Barchenko’s expedition were either destroyed or placed in closed archives, it was claimed that he had found a pyramid at Lake Seydozero. [5] A year later, in 1923, one Arnold Kolbanovsky led another expedition to the area, searching for ancient remains of the sort described by Barchenko.

Some seventy years on, in the late 1990s, interest in the area seemed to experience a revival. Valeriy Nikitich Demin (1942-2006), a writer and philosopher, led various expeditions to the Kola Peninsula. Exploring Lake Seidozero, Demin wrote:

If you climb higher into the mountains and wander through the rocks and scree, you will see a pyramid, skilfully built of stones. Everywhere a lot of them. Previously, they were also lower in the lake, but was destroyed (dismantled stone by stone) somewhere in the 20-30-ies, during the struggle with the remnants of the dark past …

So had Demin found proof of Barchenko’s claims? He had died in 2006; [6] but, in 2007, Sergey Smirnov (a mathematician), Dmitry Subetto (a geologist), and Valery Chudinov (ru), [7] (a philosopher, and Professor of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences) led a third expedition to the Kola Peninsula: “in the footsteps of the expeditions of Alexander Barchenko and Vladimir Demin.”

According to some sources (e.g., here [8] and here, the expedition found two pyramidal structures, connected by a bridge, oriented to the cardinal points and about 50 meters high.

Pyramids in Crimea and Ukraine

But alleged discoveries of pyramids were not confined to Murmansk. In the 1990s, scientist Vitaly Gokh visited the Crimea (ru), engaged in a search for water sources, and is alleged to have found there an underground pyramid. In succeeding years, claims of many more such finds were to follow.

In September 2007, The Guardian reported that, some 500 miles away from the Crimea, in the Ukraine:

Archaeologists … have unearthed the remains of an ancient pyramidal structure that pre-dates those in Egypt by at least 300 years. The stone foundations of the structure, which probably resembled Aztec and Mayan ziggurats in South America, were discovered near the eastern city of Lugansk.

There had been a similar announcement the previous August (2006) concerning a find of pyramids in Luhanschina [Luhansk], Ukraine (sometimes referred to as Merheleva Ridge; believed to be at 48°25′N 38°57′E).

Gigantic pyramids, very similar to Egyptian ones, have recently been discovered in Luganshchina …

Accompanying the story in Pravda was an image of the Great Pyramid of Giza ... captioned: “Ancient Pyramids found in Ukraine.”

Proof of the Pudding

After so many reports of pyramids discovered in northern Russia and eastern Europe during the past century, most readers will surely be agog to see images, drawings, detailed descriptions of archaeological investigations … and – especially in these days of SmartPhones - photographs.

Unfortunately, as explained, it seems that most, if not all, of the notes from Alexander Barchenko’s original expedition are inaccessible, leaving us forced to rely on such descriptions as have reached us.

There are various accounts of his discovery:

Near Seydozero (Holy Lake) in 1922 and in subsequent expeditions, hills resembling pyramids were found …

These structures have been described as: “... pyramids of the Kola Peninsula …” (twice as old as the Egyptian pyramids); some Internet resources give their location as 67°41′18″N 35°56′38″E.

Meanwhile, Internet searches reveal that there are many images and photographs said to be of pyramids in various other locations in northern Europe.

Kola ... or not Kola?

Perhaps one of the most striking images appeared on the FAWS Facebook group (30 4 22). It was taken from this site, underneath the caption “Mystery of the Pyramids of the Kola Peninsula.”

So were these the pyramids said originally to have been found by Barchenko?

As explained above, it was claimed that Demin’s 2007 expedition found two pyramidal structures, connected by a bridge, oriented to the cardinal points and about 50 meters high.

Unfortunately, the mountains shown in the image on the FAWS website page are clearly not connected by a bridge, are unlikely to be oriented to the cardinal points, and - as we are about to see – turn out to be approximately 500 meters high, ten times the height of the structures supposedly found by Barchenko.

However, an investigation described on another website revealed the answer to the mystery.

The pyramids pictured on FAWS and elsewhere were not actually in the Kola Peninsula at all.

They are over a thousand miles away, in the Faroe Islands.

The image shown on FAWS in fact comes from the website of photographer Peter Lam, and depicts two mountains: Hafjall (in the background) and Halgafelli (in the foreground), viewed looking south-east from a mountain called Klakkur near a town called Klaksvík.


The last few years have seen continuing reports of discoveries of pyramids elsewhere: most strikingly, in Crimea, some 1,500 miles south of the Kola Peninsula.

Some images of these alleged discoveries appear on this site, where the features in question are described as:

… another unique group of pyramids … discovered in the mountains of Crimea ... shaped and flat at the top, which makes them look like one of the oldest and most mysterious pyramids in Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza.

Another very similar image appears here, captioned: “The pyramids in Crimea, southern coast of Crimea, near the town of Sudak.” And a third image, also very similar, is displayed here below. Although taken from a slightly different angle, it is recognisably the same location:

Source (kotobormot, 2011)

This is Soniachna Dolyna, or “Sunny Valley,” a town located at 44.8747N, 35.10256E. (It lies about 6½ miles ENE as the crow flies from the town of Sudak.)
So do we really have a set of ancient pyramids in front of us?
Some geologists are not so sure …

Pyramid no more … [9]

Paul V. Heinrich (P.G.) [10] comments that the apex of the so-called pyramid appears to be located at 44°52’2.85"N, 35° 6’17.67"E. In this case, the “pyramid” would be revealed as no more than an illusion created by the angle at which the photo is taken. [11] Although more information would be required for absolutely certainty, the landform suggests a truncated spur formed by faulting.

(SD 1)

Features recognizable on both Google Earth and on the images on this site and here (Wikimapia, Kotobormot 2011) are annotated on the image above (SD 1) as follows:

Point B = apex of “pyramid”
Lines A-B and B-C = edges of “pyramid”
Line C-D = ridgeline (crest) of hill extending back from face of “pyramid”
B1 and B2 = benches in face of “pyramid”
t = terminations of agricultural terraces.

(SD 2)

Further features recognizable on both Google Earth and on the image shown previously, and also here (Wikimapia, Kotobormot 2011), are annotated on the image (SD 2) above as follows:

Bldg A = building A
Bldg B = building B
Bldg C = building C
church = church or mosque
D = ridgeline (crest) of hill

The indeterminate form of the truncated spurs as they appear to an observer on the ground is clearly demonstrated here (GoogleMaps).

The thirty-seven sleepers

We saw earlier how, in the late 1990s, in Sevastopol, some eighty miles away from Soniachna Dolyna, pyramids were claimed to have been discovered by Valery Gokh: thirty-seven of them, no less (more information, and a plan, appears here, and also here).

Might information have since come to light that would endorse these astonishing finds?

Unfortunately, subsequent investigations have not always encountered enthusiastic recognition of these claims, as shown in one of the comments following this 2015 YouTube video:

This is not a pyramid. I can understand what he is talking about and there were not a single word about a pyramid. He talks about this place, calls it "well". So he is inside some kind of well, but not pyramid … [12]

However, other investigations into other pyramids not far from Sevastopol, at Chersoneus, have proved more fruitful:

Four … ’pyramidtowers’ have been excavated in the Classical Greek Chora of the Chersonnesos of the Crimea [Dufkova M and Pecirka J. 1970. “Excavations of Farms and Farmhouses in the Chora of the Chersonnesos in the Crimea.” Eirene 8, 123-74]. These sites, the best preserved excavated in 1928, are remarkably similar in all respects: size, shape, internal divisions, water-provision and finds, to those of the Peloponnese but are clearly associated with an agricultural landscape of farms around the Greek city. [13]

But, clearly, late 1st millennium BC Greek pyramid-towers might come as something of a disappointment for those hoping for evidence of historical constructions of the size or age of the Giza Pyramids.

Merheleva Ridge

As noted above, in 2007, The Guardian reported the discovery of a pyramidal structure pre-dating Egyptian pyramids by 300 years, in Luhansk, Ukraine.

Unfortunately, as lead archaeologist, Victor Klochko, pointed out, this report was inaccurate on many counts:

I’m not sure where the pyramid idea came from - the media got it wrong … We didn’t find anything like an Egyptian pyramid. Though the site is on a hill.

Other mysterious ancient remains

Back on the Kola Peninsula, later expeditions also claim to have found other stone constructions, implied to be evidence left by the people responsible for the “pyramids.” On this site, for instance, appears this text:

Another recent find on the peninsula was the pyramids. Analysis of the data obtained in their study showed that the age of the pyramid is about 9,000 years, that is, half of Egyptian [sic]. Kola pyramids are located strictly along the West-East line and may have been used as a [sic] observatory.

Accompanying the text are several images, including this one:

The image of these “steps” also appears, along with many others, on this webpage, about which Paul Heinrich comments that the photos show a landscape of jointed bedrock that has been deeply eroded by an ice sheet. [14]

The “steps” (the “Stairway to the Sky”) are in fact found on Mount Vottovaara (Muyezersky District, Republic of Karelia, Russia), [15], more than 300 miles from the Kola Peninsula.

Below is another image of the same location:

Given the general context provided by the other photos, Heinrich interprets the Vuottovaara steps as weathered rock steps created by the classic lee‐side plucking of jointed bedrock by a glacier moving parallel to ice flow, [16] and comments that it looks as if the edges of the rock steps have rounded later glacial abrasion or post-glacial weathering.

But why has so much effort been poured into making claims about pyramids in the Kola Peninsula and other locations?

Barchenko thought that he knew the reason. He believed that his trip to Seydozero and his findings there, coupled with ethnographic material collected by the expedition members - legends and traditions of the Sami – were enough to allow him to reveal an unprecedented world discovery: the homeland of the ancient civilization of Hyperborea.


According to ancient Greek myth, the Hyperboreans were a people who lived in the very remote north. But Barchenko (and others) believed that the myth indicated the existence of a real people who had lived in a real land: and this idea appears to have exerted a degree of fascination over some Russian thinkers and leaders over the centuries.

For instance, it has been claimed that, in 1764, early in her reign, Catherine the Great (1729-96) despatched an expedition under the command of Admiral Vasily Chichagov (1726-1809), whose secret purpose was to find Hyperborea (and the Elixir of Youth): regrettably, the ice proved too formidable a barrier, Chichagov was forced to turn back, and the Empress had to make do without the Elixir of Youth. [17]

The amateur expeditions organised in the late 1990s by Demin to the Kola Peninsula, following in the footsteps of Barchenko, were named after the legendary land they were seeking: Hyperborea-97 (ru) [18] and Hyperborea-98 (ru). (Unfortunately, thick vegetation prevented the 1997 expedition from viewing any ancient remains or pyramids from a helicopter.)

However, belief in the connection of the mythical land with the Kola Peninsula continues to this day. [19] The writer and ethnologist Victor Shnirelman explains more about the nature of the myth, and its attraction in more recent times, here:

Ancient people are viewed as robust, noble, reliable, truthful, courageous, generous, skilful, knowledgeable and wise. They developed a grand culture and built up a high civilisation on a northern island named Arctida, or Hyperborea, situated in the Polar region. According to the myth, the inhabitants were “white people, the Aryans” ...

In the late 20th century the Aryan myth was revived in Russia by occult scientists, Neo-Pagans and radical Russian nationalists, who did their best to make it the basis of the ‘national idea’ in order to consolidate the Russian people, to awake them from apathy …

… features of the Aryan myth are hyper-migrationism and cyclic theory. It views the Russian past as endless peaks and troughs – the formation of the largest world empire, encompassing all Eurasia if not half of the old World, and its subsequent collapse and disintegration into numerous peoples and states that waged bloody wars with each other. Allegedly, these cycles repeated time and again throughout history. Adhering to this concept allows people to aspire to several goals. Firstly, it justifies empire and makes it a permanent and significant element of human history; secondly, it legitimises Russian claims to all the territories of the former Russian empire or Soviet Union; and thirdly, it gives hope for the restoration of the all-embracing and powerful Russian state in its full might. [20]

Shnirelman adds:

Among those who have restored this myth were Aleksander Dugin … a zealous adherent of the new right. Many contemporary Russian Neo-pagans also favour the myth ... of the Aryan ancestors, who allegedly expanded from the heart of Eurasia and established ancient civilisations … [21]

The name of Aleksander Dugin (b. 1962) is of particular interest here, given that, at the time of writing (May 2022) he is said to be a close confidant of Vladimir Putin, President of Russia. (It has even been suggested that it was Dugin – enthusiastic supporter of the concept of Hyperborea, [22] cradle of civilisation - who devised the scenario for the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022).

So, especially over the past twenty or thirty years, it appears that the concept of Hyperborea has come to serve an ideological (and specifically nationalist) agenda in Russia.

Might this help to explain why some Russia-based academics and researchers have been so anxious to find ancient built structures that can be presented as evidence to support the theory that Hyperborea was once a real place? Amongst the most impressive of all ancient built structures are, of course, pyramids: impressive constructions that, for many people, immediately recall those at Giza, in Egypt.

Was this why so many websites and sources have been so anxious to publish misleading images and/or descriptions of pyramid-like structures? Two pyramids supposedly found a thousand miles away by Demin in the Kola Peninsula turn out to be mountains of volcanic origin in the Faroe Islands. An ancient “stairway” from the same region turns out to be jointed bedrock eroded by an ice sheet. A truncated spur formed by faulting, and photographed from a misleading angle, is presented as a pyramid, or pyramids, in the Crimea. Very little evidence has emerged for the thirty-seven “pyramids” supposedly found at Sevastopol; and none at all for the pyramidal character of the structure supposedly found near Luhansk in the Ukraine.

However, perhaps we might look more closely at the question of possible misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the term “pyramid.” Demin had described seeing near Lake Seydozero: “ … a pyramid, skilfully built of stones. Everywhere a lot of them.” But, by “pyramid,” might he have meant a kind of roughly cone-shaped construction: a stone cairn, like this one?

Rather than this one?

The Great Pyramid, Giza (Source: Irna, 2022)

For he does also write:

The true purpose of man-made heaps of stones in the form of pyramids, especially where the relevant traditions have been lost, seems mysterious and inexplicable. Such heaps (pyramids) are found everywhere in the Russian North. [23]

The elephant in the room

At this point, some readers might be wondering why one of the most conspicuous examples of “pyramids” in Eastern Europe has so far not entered this discussion: namely, the Bosnian “Pyramid of the Sun” (now conclusively shown to be a geological formation).

Semir Osmanagic states that he first become aware of the Bosnian pyramid in April 2005, [24] about a year after a pyramid or pyramids were said to have been discovered by schoolchildren in 2004 near Luhansk in Ukraine.

In April 2009, after some years of muddled and inexpert investigations at Visoko, he became a member of RAEN: [25]

Readers of Le Site d’Irna will of course remember RAEN from this 2011 article which also mentions Chudinov, leader of the 2007 expedition to the Kola Peninsula in search of Hyperborea. Irna’s article refers to him as:

… a particular hoot, one Valery A. Chudinov (ru) epigraphy and palaeography specialist: a supporter of a theory about the Slavic and ‘Vedic’ civilization being the oldest in Europe, he discovers traces of it everywhere in the form of mysterious inscriptions in Russian on all kinds of media: walls, cave walls, drawings by Pushkin, and even the surfaces of the Earth, the Moon and Mars ...

2011 also happened to be the year when Chudinov published a long and admiring article (in series) on the Bosnian Pyramids. [26] This particular section (ru) includes this statement:

- the presence of geoglyphs in the form of grass and tree cover, as well as geoglyphs as traces on the ground when viewed from space ... indicate that this or that pyramid belongs to a certain Russian god;

and concludes:

… the latest discoveries indicate the presence in Europe of a very powerful Paleolithic civilization, and that the pyramids were temples of Russian gods.

Not Balkan gods: Russian gods. If the “pyramids” allegedly found in Bosnia, and elsewhere in Northern and Eastern Europe, were really all “temples of Russian gods,” might that be evidence that the territories surrounding them were viewed as once belonging to Russian peoples or their remote ancestors … ? [27]

Might this be one of the reasons why the last decade, during the presidency of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, has witnessed an increased concern with finding “pyramids” in Eastern Europe: particularly the Ukraine? The Ukraine is argued by some – e.g., Chudinov (ru) – as being one of the regions associated with Hyperborea (ru). [28]

In 2004 and 2005, [29] some members of RANS/RAEN - mentioning Demin’s expedition to the Kola Peninsula in passing - even expressed an interest in coming to the UK … Unfortunately, within the UK, there does not seem to be the same level of interest in Hyperborea as in some parts of Northern and Eastern Europe, so perhaps making contact with like-minded people would have been difficult for the Russian researchers. As it was, they confined their stated interest to a desire to study megalithic monuments, particularly in Wales and Scotland ... [30] where there are (to date) no known examples of pyramids.