An older stone wall with an opening between two gate posts. In between, a path winds in between the trees. The forest is dense and feels dark. Foto: Mostphotos

Damage to ancient remains and other cultural heritage sites in 2023

Nyhet | Statistik - 04 December 2023

According to the Swedish Forest Agency's inventory, the proportion of known cultural heritage sites affected by regeneration felling is still at a historically low level.

Cultural heritage sites with the degrees of damage and severe damage amounted to 11 percent in 2023, which is the same result as last year.

The proportion of known cultural heritage sites with damage or severe damage after regeneration felling was 7 and 4 percent respectively in this year's follow-up. Serious damage is damage that cannot be restored. The five-year average for severe damage in 2018–2022 is 8 percent.

In 2023, a total of 27% of all known ancient heritage sites were damaged by regeneration felling. This is 2 percentage more than last year but 3.5 percentage less than the average for the years 2018–2022. However, more than half of the damage is classified as minor, i.e., light damage such as tearing, light driving damage and pressure damage.

This year, we report margins of error for the survey results.

Regional differences

In Southern Norrland, this year's results show an increase of 4 percentage for damage and 2 percentage for serious damage. The proportion with damage has also increased slightly in Svealand, but in other parts of the country the proportion with damage or serious damage is either unchanged or slightly lower than last year.

Serious damages are mainly seen in Northern Norrland, while the proportion is slightly lower in Southern Norrland and significantly lower in Svealand and Götaland

Soil scarification the most common cause of damage or serious damage

Soil scarification continues to be the most common cause of damage or serious damage in three out of four regions of the country. The exception is Southern Norrland, where damage caused by wind-felled trees is more common than damage caused by soil scarification. In Svealand, damage due to wind-felled trees is as common as soil scarification.

Culture stumps work well as signal and protection

Where culture stumps are used, we see a lower proportion of cultural remains damaged by regeneration activities. A culture stump is a 1.3-meter-high stump that is used as a marking at the cultural remain.

The level of damage is lowest where cultural stumps are placed correctly, i.e., outside and around the cultural remains, where the proportion of serious damage is between 1 and 3 percent. The proportion of cultural remains with correctly placed cultural stumps differs between regions from 38 percent in Southern Norrland to 3 percent in Götaland.

Where cultural stumps have been used in some form, 92% of cultural remains have neither damage nor severe damage.

Many surrounding consideration areas are damaged during regeneration felling

Around 52% of surrounding consideration areas (protected area around a cultural heritage site) suffer damage or serious damage during regeneration felling. Soil scarification is the single most important cause of damage, in Southern Norrland, the proportion of damage and serious damage from soil scarification is 35 percent, and in Svealand and Götaland the numbers are 28 and 23 percent respectively.

Planting on cultural heritage sites common in Götaland

A proportion of 23 percent of cultural heritage sites in Götaland have undergone planting, while the corresponding figures are 12 percent in Svealand and 7 and 9 percent in Southern and Northern Norrland, respectively. Implementing planting does not entail immediate damage to the sites, but it heightens the risk of future harm. Additionally, planting diminishes the visibility of cultural remains.


Cultural heritage sites

Ancient monuments and other cultural heritage sites. In the forest there may be ancient monuments such as stone age settlements and tombs, but also other younger cultural heritage sites reflecting human history such as charcoal production sites and building remains.

Degree of damage

  • None
  • Minor (e.g., light track damage, branches left)
  • Damage (Obvious damage that can be restored, e.g., deep track damage, light soil scarification)
  • Serious damage (Irreversible damage that cannot be restored)

Cultural heritage stump

A 1,3-meter-high stump used for marking of the cultural heritage site.


  • Northern Norrland – Norrbotten and Västerbotten counties.
  • Southern Norrland – all other counties in Norrland
  • Svealand
  • Götaland

The survey is included in the Official Statistics of Sweden.

The statistics are published in the Swedish Forest Agency's statistical database and in a statistical report.


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