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Bårby Castle
Bårby ancient castle on Öland. Photo: Jan Norrman / Kulturmiljöbild, Riksantikvarieämbetet (CC BY)

In the Sweden of the 2020s, the state is planning to sell, foreclose or even demolish old heritage properties to save money, reports The Barometer OT. Did I really read correctly?

The National Property Board has been tasked with reducing the property stock. In concrete terms, the aim is to get rid of so-called "subsidised properties". One third of 160 properties are to be removed, according to information in the agency's own magazine Kulturvärden.

Real estate that is not needed for government operations or tells the government's story should be sold.

National Property Board

The aim is to retain in state ownership mainly those properties that represent significant examples of how Swedish state power has developed and manifested itself throughout history. That is to say, properties such as castles and bailiffs' houses, which in my view are merely symbols of the historical oppression and exploitation of the Swedish people by the authorities.

So what is a "subsidised property" in the eyes of the state? Well, properties that do not bear their maintenance costs through, for example, an entrance fee or other sources of income. For example, ancient Bronze and Iron Age burial grounds, castle ruins, ancient castles, medieval churches, etc.

For example, in a previous study on subsidised real estate, the ancient castle Bårby castle on the south of Öland, a castle that was inhabited during the migration period and the Middle Ages. Until the 17th century, the castle was used to defend against pirates from the Baltic States.

How much does it cost to maintain an ancient castle? I have no idea, to be honest. But as long as there are no major reconstructions, I imagine it's mainly a matter of maintaining the signage and making sure the place doesn't grow again.

I do understand if the state wants to get rid of some castles. We're talking maintenance costs. Sell them to some rich bastard who wants a black hole to put his money in. But dear Swedish politicians who spend so much of Swedish workers' money on all sorts of sensible and not so sensible things, hear my plea.

Before you sell a burial ground, block off an ancient castle or demolish some old church to save a penny, send out a notice in the villages and see if the common people themselves are not willing to take on the responsibility of managing these ancient monuments for future generations.

It may seem reasonable that properties that tell the state's self-aggrandising story should also be managed by the state. It is equally reasonable that properties and ancient monuments that tell the history of a settlement, the history of a culture, the history of a people, should be managed directly by the people whose roots reach down into the soil of the settlement.

In a society where people are allowed and perhaps even encouraged to feel pride, reverence and curiosity about their roots, about their local history and heritage, I can promise you that there is no shortage of people to cut the grass around the local ancient castle. I would welcome such a social development.

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