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The systematic destruction of Sweden's cultural heritage

An amulet ring that has now been destroyed. Photo: Archaeologists at the National Historical Museums
An amulet ring that has now been destroyed. Photo: Archaeologists at the National Historical Museums

Share on FacebookShare on WhatsAppShare on TelegramShare on TwitterOla Wong, SvD: Sweden's cultural heritage is being systematically destroyed - priceless objects from the Iron Age and the Viking Age are being sent to the scrapyard because the conservation of all objects is not a priority. Update: The Swedish National Heritage Board has responded to the criticism on its website. Johan Runer, archaeologist [...]

Ola Wong, SvD: Sweden's cultural heritage is being systematically destroyed - priceless objects from Iron Age and Viking Age are sent to the scrapyard because not all objects are given priority for conservation.

Update: Riksantikvarieämbetet has responded to the criticism on its website.

Johan Runer, archaeologist at the Stockholm County Museum, has once again sounded the alarm about the mismanagement of Sweden's cultural heritage. It is a case of ancient coins, weights, buttons, knives, rings and other objects belonging to the ancient northerners being "culled" during excavations, i.e. thrown away.

- What you are doing is throwing away our history! says Johan Runer, archaeologist at the Stockholm County Museum.

Instead of scrapping our cultural heritage and that of future generations, museums could donate these ancient artefacts to local community groups who can learn how to preserve them using simple and cost-effective methods. I Ancient Friend 19 from 1924 which can be downloaded from the Swedish National Heritage Board, Erik Sörling writes about a tried and tested conservation method where the iron object is leached and then impregnated in boiling paraffin.

Preserving ancient iron finds does not sound like nuclear physics, and should be something even volunteer forces can learn. But they choose to throw the finds in the bin "because they don't want to create a market for antiquities," says Runer.

An amulet ring that has now been destroyed. Photo: Archaeologists at the National Historical Museums
An amulet ring that has now been destroyed. Photo: Archaeologists at the National Historical Museums

SvD mentions an excavation in the multi-millennial cultural settlement of Molnby in Vallentuna where several amulet rings from the Iron Age were found (see picture above). Amulet rings were ritual objects used during vendel- and the Viking Age by the Swedes' ancestors.

This is of course totally unacceptable, to put it very mildly. "Sweden's largest national archive is the Swedish earth" wrote Vilhelm Moberg in the first part of "My Swedish History". If the county museums cannot afford to preserve all the archaeological finds they dig up, they should stop digging in the earth and leave that job to future generations who have more sense behind their foreheads.

Ultimately, it is the National Heritage Officer Lars Amréus and the Minister of Culture Alice Bah Kunke who are responsible for Sweden's cultural heritage today, and "the destruction of history is taking place on their watch", as Ola Wong notes.

Project Allmogen has contacted the National Heritage Board for comment.

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