A Dozen Years of Fornvännen

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When I was in grad school, twelve years ago to the day, my thesis supervisor gave me a part-time job. He got me onto the editorial board of Swedish archaeology’s main research journal.

I became co-editor of Fornvännen on 15 April 1999. The other editors were pretty busy people, I was paid by the hour, I enjoyed the work and I saw the career potential. So I made sure from the start to grab all the responsibility I could. This state of affairs was formalised in 2008, when I was made Managing Editor, a box that hadn’t existed on the org chart before. I did the journal work in my research office until October 2006, when I got a desk at the Royal Academy of Letters and started to edit books for them as well. And since January 2009 my part-time position there has been a steady one.

Editing a major journal is an excellent side job for a research scholar. You get to know everybody in your field. You get to read everything a year before anyone else does, including lots of stuff that never gets published. (Fornvännen has a 1/3 refusal rate.) You learn endlessly about new subjects. And you become keenly aware of academic prose. I copy-edit everything in the journal pretty strongly, aiming for a clear, sparse, jargon-free, non-archaic style.

Since issue one in 1906, twenty people have been credited on the title page as Fornvännen’s editors. I’m number 18. The median number of volumes each editor has contributed to is 8.5. My friend Göran Tegnér leads the field, currently contributing to his 37th volume. The list below is however most likely not complete for the first decades, where only the Head Editor is credited. There must have been editorial secretaries back then, particularly under Sigurd Curman whose main job was as Custodian of Ancient Monuments.

1. Emil Ekhoff, vols. 1906-23
2. Sigurd Curman, vols. 1925-46
3. Mårten Stenberger, vols. 1947-52
4. Erik Bohrn, vols. 1953-65
5. Ulla Behr, vols. 1956-65, 1974-75
6. Gösta Selling, vols. 1961-65
7. Egon Thun, vol. 1966
8. Ingrid Swartling, vols. 1966-72
9. Bo Gräslund, vols. 1966-72, 1985-96
10. Åke Hyenstrand, vols. 1972-75
11. Lars. O. Lagerqvist, vols. 1972-75
12. Göran Tegnér, vols. 1975 onward
13. Ann-Cathrine Bonnier, vol. 1975
14. Jan Peder Lamm, vols. 1976 onward
15. Ingvar Jansson, vol. 1976
16. Torgny Säve-Söderberg, vols. 1976-85
17. Gustaf Trotzig, vols. 1997-2007
18. Martin Rundkvist, vols. 1999 onward
19. Elisabet Regner, vols. 2007 onward
20. Lars Larsson, vols. 2008 onward


  1. #1 Steven Blowney
    April 15, 2011

    I greatly appreciate your colleagues’ (past and present) and your efforts in “Fornvannen.” More importantly, I appreciate that the journal is now available online. Please continue.

  2. #2 Martin R
    April 15, 2011

    Thanks! The Academy seems quite happy to keep the journal going. It is famous in the Swedish humanities for its early and bold adoption of Open Access.

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    April 16, 2011

    You forget to mention the influence the journal and its editors has had outside the field of archaeology.
    When mentioning the first editor, Einstein said “…me and the other students used to joke about a certain Ekhoff “dopplering away” whenever reminded of his poker debts. Anyway, that gave me the idea for a theory…”
    In 1942, Arthur C. Clarke, frustrated by the inability to reach Fornvännen’s subscription department through the wartime German blockade came up with the idea of geostationary communication satelites.
    (The story about Watson, Crick and the double helix is too gross to bring up)

  4. #4 Riman Butterbur
    April 16, 2011

    Do all the articles have abstracts in English?

  5. #5 Martin R
    April 16, 2011

    Birger, have you been hitting the jazz tobacco again?

    Riman, yes, each full-length paper has both an abstract and a summary in English. Shorter notes have figure captions in English.

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    April 16, 2011

    Martin, the gunk at the back of my fridge has psychotropic properties.

    BTW, here is the next world champion of over-interpreting evidence:
    “2,000-year-old nails ‘may be tied to crucifixion'”
    And the bronze-age settlement that you found so disappointing last week is where Beowulf slept on his way to Heorot.

  7. #7 Martin R
    April 17, 2011

    Good grief, that is just too silly. Gimme some of your fridge gunk to drown my sorrows.

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