Is Britain set to pull out of UNESCO?

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Cornwall Mining Landscape © David Gill

The International Development Secretary, Penny Mourdant, has suggested that the UK should withdraw from UNESCO (Emily Thornberry, “UK withdrawal from Unesco would be historical and cultural vandalism“, The Guardian 13 November 2018). The UK (and its dependencies) is home to 31 sites inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The report reminds its readers of the economic value of UNESCO World Heritage status: “Britain makes a net gain from our membership of Unesco: we contributed £11m to the agency this year, versus £100m value added to our economy from its designation of our heritage sites”.

Heritage sites, indeed inscribed UNESCO World Heritage sites, form part of the UK Government tourism strategy to attract more visitors. Had Mourdant taken the time to understand the benefits of the UK remaining a member of UNESCO?

It is reported that Mourdant’s proposal has been rejected by No. 10.

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RSA Heritage Network and Suffolk

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RSA Launch © University of Suffolk

Heritage Futures hosted the RSA Heritage Network event for Suffolk this evening. Around 50 guests from across the region listened to presentations on the heritage index (David Gill), museums in Suffolk (Jenna Ingamells) and the Hold (Amy Rushton). There was an extended time of discussion to consider the three RSA themes relating to:

  • the challenges facing heritage in our region / country
  • the solutions
  • the develop of networks to support heritage

Further details about the event can be found in the press release.

The Lake District and UNESCO World Heritage Status

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Castlerigg Stone Circle © David Gill

The Lake District in north-west England was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 [UNESCO]. The listing notes, “a distinctive cultural landscape which is outstanding in its harmonious beauty, quality, integrity and on-going utility and its demonstration of human interaction with the environment”.

The Save the Lake District group wishes to protect this internationally recognised landscape from any further damage. The group is calling on the Lake District National Park to take steps to protect this fragile environment. The issue surrounds the use of the so-called ‘Green Roads‘.

The concerns are covered by the BBC: “Lake District authority ‘violating World Heritage status’“, BBC News 14 April 2018.

An Inventory for Scotland

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2015

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) presented its final reports in the form of a well illustrated overview of its work from 1908 until its conclusion in 2015. This beautifully designed study includes commentary on the impact of different technologies on how the historic landscape and its features can be mapped and recorded.

Tattershall Castle

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Tattershall Castle © David Gill

Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire is in the care of the National Trust. The present brick tower was constructed by Ralph Cromwell, Third Baron Cromwell, in 1434; it was completed in 1446. It has six levels, and from the very top there are clear views over Lincolnshire.

The castle was purchased by Lord Curzon of Kedleston, the former viceroy of India, in 1911 and subsequently given to the National Trust. The castle had faced demolition and the removal of its architectural features for export to the USA after it had been sold in 1910; the case had been a spur to (Sir) Charles Peers in his preparion of the Ancient Monuments Act (1913).

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View from Tattershall Castle © David Gill

Plans to merge Cadw and National Museums Wales

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Opening of National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, 17 October 2005 © David Gill

There has been speculation for some time about the possible merger of Cadw and National Museums Wales (Amgueddfa Cymru). It has been reported today that Dr David Fleming, Director of the National Museums Liverpool, has written to the Welsh Government Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee  (“‘Threat’ to National Museum Wales over merger plans“, BBC News 7 October 2016). He wrote: “I cannot stress enough the pivotal role that Wales’ national museum service plays in the demonstration of Welsh nationality and the damage that could result from any diminution of that role.”

The merger is likely to include the National Library of Wales (Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru).

One of the proposed names for the new body is apparently “Historic Wales”.

The Economy Secretary for Welsh Government, Ken Skates, stated: “This [evolution] is essential if these organisations are to continue to act as effective custodians of our outstanding historic collections and heritage and provide an outstanding visitor experience.”

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Carew Cross © David Gill

Suffolk’s Coastal Heritage Matters

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Landguard Fort © David Gill

The DCMS Coastal Heritage awards attracted £172,900 for five projects in Suffolk: Landguard, Ipswich Waterfront, Bawdsey, and two for Lowestoft. These awards recognise the importance of Suffolk’s coastal heritage.