Historical significance is a historical thinking concept. Being able to identify historical significance is viewed as important for understanding change and continuity in the past, and for understanding the way ‘history’ is constructed by present society. This article discusses how Swedish students in Grade 5 (age 11 years) perceive and understand historical significance without having received prior instruction on how to identify historical significance. The results show that the students see thrilling and exciting events in the past as significant, as well as the events, inventions, ideas and values that have influenced the present or changed the course of history in some way. In this paper, I compare students’ answers to definitions of historical significance formulated by Christine Counsell (2004) and Matthew Bradshaw (2006). For the study, 67 students were interviewed in semi-structured interviews in small groups. They attended six different schools in the middle part of Sweden and came from varying backgrounds. Regardless of their backgrounds or origins, the students see the history culture of the majority, as presented in their history education, as their own.