Odd News Show

Rock Så Mycket: Swedish Court Rules That Man Can Keep Space Rock That Fell to Earth in his Yard

A Swedish count can soon reclaim a meteorite that landed on his property in what may be the world’s dorkiest legal victory.

By Katie Compa · March 29, 2024

Life, and iron meteorites, are fleeting. NASA HQ PHOTO/Flickr

Disclaimer: While this article is based on rock hard facts, it is also covered in a creamy sauce of satire.

Following a protracted legal battle over its removal by a couple of roaming geologists, a Swedish count may soon reclaim a 31-pound meteorite that fell from the sky and landed on his estate outside the town of Enköping (pronounced roughly en-shuh-ping) in Uppsala, a part of Sweden north of Stockholm that most non-Swedes might refer to as, “Brrrrr.” 

In November 2020, the meteorite fell on Count Johan Benzelstierna von Engeström’s 2,500-acre property, which has been in his family for almost four hundred years - a fact we’re sure he hardly ever mentions at cocktail parties. It was found the following month by two geologists, Anders Zetterqvist and Andreas Forsberg, who took it with them, eventually turning it over to Naturhistoriska, the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

“Not so fast, rock nerds,” said Count Johan, even though he’s not exactly giving Cool Guy vibes himself, and sued them. 

Swedes abide by the principle of Allemansrätten, or “Right to Public Access,” which states that regardless of private property, any of the 10.5 million Swedes (and visitors to Sweden!) can roam freely through the country’s forests, lakes, and islands, provided they don’t disturb any plants, animals, and obviously UFOs.

Allemansrätten is also the name of the cream sauce served with Swedish meatballs at IKEAs worldwide.

It's true! And we DO have a right to delicious savory sauce.  Katie Compa/Odd News Show

The first court case in December 2022 saw the Uppsala district court side with the dorks, ruling that they had a right to remove the stone under Allmansrätten because the meteorite was not part of the property, was moveable, and had no owner.

The new ruling  by the Svea Court of Appeals found that Allmansrätten “does not give anyone the right to take a meteorite from someone else’s land.” Allmansrätten does forbid removing earthbound rocks and gravel from private property; the land on which the meteorite landed contains iron, and the meteorite is made of iron, so according to the court, it therefore ”cannot be easily separated from what is usually regarded as (immovable) property.” This logic is obvious to anyone who has ever maybe been bribed by a Swedish count, not that we are alleging anything. 

The case has gone on for so long that a documentary, Meteoriten, has already been made (and featured at a film festival just a couple of weeks before the new verdict was handed down).

Zetterqvist and Forsberg insisted that Count Johan had agreed they could remove the rock, but unfortunately couldn’t provide proof. That’s exactly what you get for trusting an aristocrat, suckers! The two must decide by April 18 whether to appeal the decision to the Swedish Supreme Court. (Americans only wish our Supreme Court could concern itself with this kind of thing instead of salmon fishing and racking up rides on private jets.)