My study of Ministry Souvenir Guidebooks has appeared in the latest number of the Journal of Public Archaeology (2018).
The first formal guidebooks for historic sites placed in state guardianship in the United Kingdom appeared in 1917. There was an expansion of the series in the 1930s and 1950s. However from the late 1950s the Ministry of Works, and later the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, started to produce an additional series of illustrated souvenir guides. One distinct group covered Royal Palaces: The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Queen Victoria’s residence of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. This was followed by guides for the archaeological sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, the Neolithic flint mines at Grime’s Graves, the Roman villa at Lullingstone, and Hadrian’s Wall. In 1961 a series of guides, with covers designed by Kyffin Williams, was produced for the English castles constructed in North Wales and that now form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of ‘Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd’. These illustrated guides, some with colour, prepared the way for the fully designed guides now produced by English Heritage, Cadw, and History Scotland.
‘The Ministry of Works and the Development of Souvenir Guides from 1955’, Public Archaeology (2018). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14655187.2017.1484584
David Gill will be giving a lecture on ‘Austerity, heritage and tourism: UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece’ as part of the Edmund Lecture Series for 2017/18. The lecture will be in Suffolk House, Bury St Edmunds on Wednesday 18 April 2018 at 6.00 pm.
Tourism is a significant part of the Greek economy and an important counterbalance to austerity. There are 18 UNESCO cultural and two mixed World Heritage Sites (WHS) in Greece. They range from the Bronze Age site of Mycenae, through the Classical site of Olympia, to the Medieval City of Rhodes. These locations stand alongside a rich range of archaeological and heritage sites as well as museums that serve as a repository for the finds. This lecture will review the value of these UNESCO recognised sites as focal points for tourist activity. This overview will be presented against the wider visitor figures for other archaeological sites and museums in the care of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports. This information will be mapped onto the wider visitor data for Greece, and contributes to the discussion over the economic impact of World Heritage Sites for local economies as well as the wider economy of Greece. The lecture will explore the likely impact of Brexit on the Greek tourist economy, and opens a wider discussion of why the UK Government should value our own UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Dirleton Castle © David Gill
The figures for the Leading Visitor Attractions 2017 are now available. There are a number of sites in the care of Historic Environment Scotland:
- Edinburgh Castle : 2,063,709 [+16%]
- Stirling Castle : 567,259 [+18%]
- Urquhart Castle : 488,136 [+23%]
- Glasgow Cathedral : 389,101 [+36%]
- Skara Brae : 110,028 [+18%]
- St Andrews Castle : 90,617 [+18%]
- Linlithgow Palace : 86,596 [+16%]
- Fort George : 75,798 [+24%]
- Iona Abbey : 66,224 [+2%]
- Melrose Abbey : 58,989 [+11%]
- St Andrews Cathedral : 58,395 [+26%]
- Tantallon Castle : 49,955 [+17%]
- Blackness Castle : 42,810 [+42%]
- Caerlaverock Castle :38,540 [+8%]
- Elgin Cathedral : 38,201 [+25%]
- Craigmillar Castle : 31,269 [+35%]
- Dirleton Castle :30,219 [+8%]
- Dumbarton Castle : 27,033 [+12%]
- Jedburgh Abbey : 26,906 [+13%]
Fort George © David Gill
Glenfinnan © David Gill
The details of the Leading Visitor Attractions for 2017 are now available. The National Trust for Scotland locations are:
- Glenfinnan : 396,448 [+57.8%]
- Culzean Castle & Country Park : 244,930 [+11.6%]
- Inverewe Gardens : 191,951 [+109.6%]
- Culloden : 180,875 [+27.6%]
- Burns Birthplace Museum : 164,316 [+1.2%]
- Crathes Castle : 121,841 [+23.7%]
- Bannockburn : 55,347 [+7.9%]
- Falkland Palace : 50,726 [+15.1%]
- Drum Castle : 46,574 [-3%]
- Brodick Castle & Country Park : 44,361 [-38.1%]
- Pitmedden Garden : 43,045 [+17.9%]
- Hill House : 28,518 [+6.2%]
- Gladstones Land : 12,061 [-44.7%]
There are two notable changes: Glenfinnan has rocketed to the top of the NTS list, and Inverewe has risen from no. 181. Inverewe’s popularity is probably its situation on the designated Scottish coastal drive NC500.
Culloden © David Gill
NTS figures for:
Framlingham Castle, September 2017 © David Gill
The figures for Leading Visitor Attractions in 2017 have been published. The top English Heritage sites are:
- Stonehenge : 1,582,532 [+14.5%]
- Dover Castle : 379,740 [+13.9%]
- Osborne : 308,861 [+16.1%]
- Tintagel Castle : 246,039 [+7.1%]
- Audley End House and Gardens : 179,167 [+8.1%]
- Whitby Abbey : 166,362 [+9.6%]
- Clifford’s Tower, York : 154,135 [+5.1%]
- Kenwood : 143,490 [+6.8%]
- Wrest Park : 137,131 [+10.3%]
- Carisbrooke Castle : 126,584 [-0.3%]
- 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield : 123,220 [-10.6%]
- Kenilworth Castle : 118,090 [+9.3%]
- Eltham Palace and Gardens : 109,501 [+12.5%]
- Walmer Castle and Gardens : 109,005 [+18.8%]
- Housesteads Roman Fort : 108,660 [+6.5%]
- Framlingham Castle : 106,149 [+35.9%]
- Bolsover Castle : 104,383 [+13.2%]
Note that Framlingham Castle in Suffolk had the largest percentage increase, while only two sites saw a fall in visitor numbers.
See figures for 2016.
Landguard Fort © David Gill
There are several tourism strategies available for Suffolk. The one for East Suffolk (2017–22) notes the importance of heritage for attracting tourists to the area. One of the aims is to develop the cultural and heritage offer of East Suffolk? Museums are seen as separate from heritage.
East Suffolk attracts (2015) 10.2 million day trips, 2.7 million staying nights. The total value of tourism to the region (2015) was £590 million.
Durham Cathedral © David Gill
HLF has published a report that demonstrates that overseas visitors to heritage attractions in the UK spent £7.4 billion (“UK PLC: New figures reveal overseas visitors to heritage are driving the UK’s tourism economy“, 24 October 2016). UK domestic overnight visitors spent £4.7 billion, and UK day trips were worth £5.3 billion. Heritage tourism is now worth £2.1 billion to the economy of Scotland.
The information is published in Economic impact of UK heritage tourism economy (2016).
An increase in tourism is likely to be one of the impacts of Brexit making heritage an even greater contributor to the UK economy.