Sweden was entirely covered by inland ice around 20,000 years ago. The High Coast was the area where the land surface was pressed down the most by the vast, three-kilometre wide glaciers.
From Riksantikvarieämbetet (The National Heritage Board), the agency of the Swedish government that is responsible for heritage and historic environment issues, here below is a complete description of the isostatic uplift that was the key reason for the designation of the High Coast as a UNESCO's World Heritage Site:
The High Coast has the highest uplift of land in the world after a period of inland ice.
The land arose from the sea after the ice melted 9,600 years ago. Gradually, plants and animals inhabited it. Humans settled the area and made an impact as well. The serene and peculiar landscape features sweeping mountain lines, steep cliffs over the sea and creeks that meander between the islands.
Sweden was entirely covered by inland ice around 20,000 years ago. The High Coast was the area where the land surface was pressed down the most by the vast, three-kilometre wide glaciers. As the ice began to melt, the land began to rebound, and return to its original position. That is the basic explanation of the nearly 800-metres land rise after the peak of the latest Ice Age, called Weichel.
The area is a unique example of how geological forces have drastically altered a landscape in a relatively short period of time. Special phenomena are hemispheric hills with moraines and caps of woods marking the highest shoreline, 286 metres above present sea level. There are also offshore banks reaching up to 260-metres.
There is a varying plant- and animal life on the land and in the water. For example, there are different forest types, different types of coniferous clumps and rare deciduous trees such as hazel, lime and elm. On the cliffs toward the north, you can find exotic alpine species such as the tufted saxifrage, alpine clubmoss, alpine lady's mantle and the three-leafed rush as well as the unusual plant "strandtraven," which only exists on the High Coast.
The relatively quick land uplift has affected the conditions for human life along the shoreline. There are remains of human settlements and continual human activity during a period of 7,000 years, within a distance of 3 kilometres from the present-day shoreline. The shorelines of different eras contain remains of dwelling-places and human traps from the Stone Age, Bronze Age cairns and burial mounds from the Iron Age, as well as piers and house foundations from previous millennium.
The High Coast was inscribed on the World Heritage list in the year 2000. The motivation of the World Heritage Committee: "The site is one of the places in the world that is experiencing isostatic uplift as a result of deglaciation. Isostatic rebound is well-illustrated and the distinctiveness of the site is the extent of the total isostatic uplift which, at 294m, exceeds others. The site is the "type area" for research on isostacy, the phenomenon having been first recognised and studied there." (Font: Riksantikvarieämbetet - More info here)
Photo on the left: Västernorrlands Länsstyrelsen ©