Signage on Aegina

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Colonna, Aegina © David Gill

We have been noting the heritage of signs at various sites in State Guardianship in England, Wales, and Scotland. The complexity of architectural features at archaeological sites in Greece is resolved by the placing of signs to explain the elements to visitors.

In this view of part of the temenos of Apollo on Aegina (the Kolonna site), the different phases of the sanctuary wall (one from the archaic period, and the other from the Late Roman phase) are indicated in Greek and German (reflecting the language of the excavators of the site).

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Colonna, Aegina © David Gill

Lego heritage

As another trip to China draws to a close, I leave this time from Shanghai Pudong Airport. Apart from the excitement of a trip on the Maglev (finally, after three years my itinerary allowed it!), the real thrill was finding a Lego Architecture set in the Duty Free of one of the great World Heritage Sites: the Great Wall of China. What’s not to like (apart from the price, which is as steep as the climb up parts of the Wall)?

Beijing city walls

There are tantalising glimpses of the remains of the Ming Dynasty city walls around the modern centre of Beijing. Some parts have been adapted and built up against, whilst some like this section are backdrops to tiny pocket parks, which provide much needed green space in a frenetic city. Often you have to take a moment to work out what you are looking at, as not all sections have interpretation panels (though many do, like this one). The sections provide intimate glimpses into the long history of settlement and the ever-present role of history and a deeply valued cultural story. They are used heavily as spaces for rest for workers from nearby offices and recreation space for flat dwellers in the vicinity who have little green space access otherwise.

From heritage to health – Ritan Park, Beijing

Just along from our current hotel in the centre of Beijing, is Ritan Park, situated in the Jianguomenwai area very close to the British Embassy. The park is one of the oldest in Beijing, dating from 1530 and was built as a temple to the sun god.  Chinese emperors would make ritual offerings at the central altar.  It was a place of worship for the Chinese imperial court of the Qing (1644-1911) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties.  On a previous visit to the park, I watched a live action reinterpretation of the ceremonies in the central reconstructed ritual area. This seemed to involve local school children, all decked out in period costume with relevant accessories – what a memorable history field trip and doubt successful at reinforcing cultural identity and history!

Given the park’s centrality in a densely packed city, it has been re-designated as a Health and Wellbeing facility, with many exercise, walking and activity stations, as well as perimeter paths laid out with distance benchmarks for fitness and recreation measurement.

There is a comprehensive interpretation and orientation scheme through the park, with plenty of signage to inform and amuse this Western eye which is slightly obsessed with signage as my #heritagesigns tweets regularly suggest.

The Berlin Wall as heritage for the future

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Berlin © David Gill

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the effective reunification of Berlin. Few traces of this symbol of a divided city remain.

But we also remember those who died trying to cross this barrier.

How do we remember the recent past and present it to the public? How do we deal with such sensitive issues? How can this heritage be used to inform future generations?

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Berlin © David Gill
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Berlin © David Gill

Hadrian’s Wall: unfinished ditch at Limestone Corner

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Hadrian’s Wall, Limestone Corner © David Gill

One of the reminders of the difficulty in constructing Hadrian’s Wall can be seen at Limestone Corner (MC30), to the east of Carrawburgh, where the ditch to the north of the wall was left unfinished. It is estimated that one of the single blocks removed from the ditch originally weighed 13 tons.