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A Turn Towards the Digital. An Overview of Swedish Heritage Information Management Today

Daniel Löwenborg, Maria Jonsson, Åsa Larsson and Johan Nordinge

Cite this as: Löwenborg, D., Jonsson, M., Larsson, A. and Nordinge, J. 2021 A Turn Towards the Digital. An Overview of Swedish Heritage Information Management Today, Internet Archaeology 58.


Heritage management in Sweden has undergone a substantial transformation in recent decades. The process of monitoring and managing heritage information has become increasingly digital, relying on interconnected systems to monitor registered archaeological remains to manage investigations and contract archaeology excavations. This also has to work together with the digital systems of the County Administrative Boards that administer all permissions for excavations. Current developments deal with archiving and dissemination of reports, and documentation from fieldwork. Documentation of archaeological excavations has predominantly been digital for the past 20 years, which brings both possibilities and challenges in making sure the information will adhere to the FAIR Principles. This article outlines some of these developments and exemplifies the possibilities of reusing legacy data through the Urdar project.

  • Google Scholar
  • Keywords: archaeology, heritage management, digital archaeological information, FAIR, digital heritage, contract archaeology, data management, archive, Sweden
  • Accepted: 21 January 2021. Published: 31 May 2021
  • Funding: This article was funded by SEADDA as part of COST Action 18128, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union
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Corresponding author: Daniel LöwenborgORCID logo
Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University

Maria JonssonORCID logo
Swedish National Heritage Board

Åsa LarssonORCID logo
Swedish National Heritage Board

Johan NordingeORCID logo
Swedish National Heritage Board

Full text

Figure 1: The Swedish system for contract archaeology illustrated and simplified. The National Heritage Board sets rules and regulations for the system. The County Administrative Board (CAB) can approve the excavation of a site, whether on private or public land. Developers have to cover the cost of contract archaeologists decided by CAB. The results must be approved by CAB before they become public in the Historic Environment Record. Artefacts and analogue documentation are delivered to a museum. Illustration: Åsa Larsson, CC-BY

Figure 2: The Digital Archaeological Process implemented in Sweden in 2018. The County Administrative Board system (ASK) sends administrative data about planned archaeological excavations and surveys to the Historic Environment Record (HER). Via the web tool Fornreg the archaeologists can update HER with new information and upload the finished reports. Administrators at CAB can make the new data public and NHB can add information about which museum receives the artefacts. All content is open for public use through web search Fornsök and the Open Data Portal. Illustration: Åsa Larsson, CC-BY

Figure 3: The public web interface for the Historic Environment Record: Fornsök. Red geometries marked 'R' are protected sites, blue are historical sites with less degree of protection, grey are sites that have been destroyed or excavated. The striped red geometry is the area of an archaeological project. On the left is the info card, with a link to the report (PDF) and information about which museum received the artefacts

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Larsson, Å. and Löwenborg, D. 2020 'The digital future of the past - research potential with increasingly FAIR archaeological data' in C. Hillerdal and K. Ilves (eds) Re-imagining Periphery. Archaeology and text in northern Europe from Iron Age to Viking and Early Medieval Periods, Oxford: Oxbow Books. 61-70.

Larsson, Å.M., Smith, M., Sohlenius, R. and Klafver, T. 2017 'Digitising the archaeological process at the Swedish National Heritage Board: producing, managing and sharing archaeological information', Internet Archaeology 43.

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