“It’s incredibly stupid of them. This is a story that went all over the world last year. It was reported on everywhere from Berlin to Bangkok, and they are missing a unique opportunity to highlight the most important part of archaeology: finding artefacts,” Jens Granhof told The Local, in reference to a recent decision by the Swedish Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet).
“It’s absolutely shameful that they don’t take the value to our cultural heritage into consideration.”
Jens Granhof and his then 9-year-old grandson were out exploring the site of the Battle of Lund (1676) in April last year when the boy happened on some silver coins coated in verdigris. The buried treasure had likely come to the surface when the field in which they were wandering was recently ploughed.
The story of the 9-year-old boy behind such a significant find captured the imagination of the world’s press. Granhof the elder expected a happier ending, though he was at pains to stress that he was enraged not by the level of the monetary reward, but the inflexible manner in which it was calculated.
In its decision, the Heritage Board explained to the Granhofs that they would receive 10 percent of the value of their find, which was calculated at 400,000 kronor.
Granhof initally appealed the reward, arguing that the finder’s fee was too low.
But the Heritage Board has since rejected his appeal, meaning the initial award amount stands.
“The amount is largely unimportant. This was a great opportunity for the Heritage Board to really highlight the importance of finds like this. But when people see what we get for our troubles they just won’t bother turning over what they’ve found.
“My grandson is of the same opinion. My whole family is upset by this,” he said.
The board however pointed out that it was in fact under no obligation to pay a reward since the coins were found at a registered heritage site, meaning the finder is obliged to hand over any finds to the state.
But Jens Granhof continued to cite the symbolic importance of archaeological discoveries, calling to mind a recent case in which an unguarded site of archaeological importance was plundered on the Baltic Island of Gotland.
“We need to encourage people to protect our cultural heritage, not put them off the idea.
“I sat with my son and guarded the site for two whole nights and all we get in return is a cold shower. I really didn’t expect this reaction. If I’d been like the thieves in Gotland I could have sold it for a much higher figure,” he said.
The treasure trove uncovered by grandson and granddad consisted of some 9,000 coins stored in two clay vessels and primarily dating from the 13th century.
The haul was unprecedented in southern Sweden and included an estimated 3,000 English pennies minted during the reign of Henry III, as well as 6,000 coins from 13th century Denmark. A handful of German and Dutch coins, a German bracteate, a brooch, and two small silver pieces completed the list of treasures unearthed by the Granhof.
Departmental managers at the Swedish Heritage Board were not immediately available for comment.