In today’s Dagens Nyheter several professors, lecturers and writers gives hard critique toward the National Heritage Board (RAA) under the headline: The government shirk their responsibility to care for our National heritage.
In the debate article they write among other things (A short summary of the article):
“You are doing a worse job today than at the start some 400 years ago. (the National heritage board )“
In Sweden a special cut cultural heritage is available that is unique in the world, 1000’s of written messages are available in the landscape (the rune stones) for everyone to read. With a cultural heritage like this comes a great responsibility to care for and to document this remains for those who comes after us. This is something that has been recognized for hundreds of years but during recent years the National heritage board has seemed less inclined to take its responsibility for our older cultural heritage. Important and highly regarded publications such as “Det Medeltida Sverige” (Medieval Sweden) and works regarding our churches have been terminated long before they have been finished. Now the axe is coming down on “Runverket” (the Rune agency) that during a long time have been responsible for publishing and “Sveriges runiskrifter” (The Runic inscriptions in Sweden) in which runic inscriptions have been described and interpreted province by province. Its personal has also been in charge of painting and care of the rune stones.
The debaters feel that this strange especially as the interest for history and the Viking Age is on a steady upraise in Sweden. They also feel that it is of both a national as well as an international interest that the long term strategies regarding the knowledge and care for the rune stones are in place and that the best way to do this is to have a central authority that are responsible to secure the scientific competency.
The debaters concludes the article with a demand that there should be at least three full time employees that works with the documentation, the care and publication.
I agree with the debaters on this subject as a whole if not in every detail, I think it is sad that the National board (RAA) no longer seems interested in collecting, processing and creating knowledge of our ancient and historical monuments, remains and relics. But I don’t think it is necessary or particularly good to centralize all research or care at a government authority. In many ways it is a good path to let the provincial County Boards and museums take a big responsibility within their local area.
But I think it is important that the NHB works from an authority angle; as a control function regarding laws and regulations and concentrating on the national scene rather than the local. This does call for funds directed to local research and for care of our ancient and historic remains. It is also important to state that this does not absolve the NHB from responsibility of being in charge of the whole picture, to do this they must do research, collecting data and bring the results together and publish these. Otherwise we’ll get a situation where no one looks at the national perspective and all comes down to provincial thinking at the risk of building up walls instead of bridges. A NHB that is only talk and ideology isn’t what anyone need, what we need is a NHB that stands strong and take fights for preservation and re-search regarding our common cultural heritage.