Edinburgh Castle: guidebooks

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Fourth edition 1953 (2nd impression 1954)

One of the earliest Ministry guidebooks for properties in Scotland was prepared for Edinburgh Castle (1929). The description was by James S. Richardson, with an extended history (pp. 15–40) by Marguerite Wood.  It contains black and white photographs with a fouldout plan inside the back cover.

The second edition was published in 1939, and the third in 1948.

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1953 (4th ed.; 14th impress. 1973)

This guide continued as the Blue Guide. The plan was moved to the centre pages.

Edinburgh_HMSO

1960

A souvenir guide was prepared for the Ministry of Works by the Central Office of Information in 1960. It has a subtitle, ‘An illustrated guide with the story of the castle through the centuries’. A small plan is placed on p. 3. At the end of the guide are sections on the Scottish United Services Museum; the Honours of Scotland; and the Scottish National War Memorial.

Edinburgh_HS_souv

2003 (repr. 2004)

The present Historic Scotland souvenir guide is by Chris Tabraham. It starts with a guided tour (Thirty steps to history), and then a history as ‘Symbol of Scotland’. There are ‘Did you know?’ boxes on each of the double page spreads. The guide also has the logo for the World Heritage Site.

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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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.

Austerity, Heritage, and Tourism

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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.

Abstract

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.

[Details]

The Value(s) of UNESCO

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Statue of Liberty © David Gill

One of the many roles for UNESCO has been the recognition of World Heritage Sites around the world. The news that both the US and the State of Israel will be withdrawing from the funding of UNESCO raises deep concerns.

The 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property has had a major impact on the way that countries can protect their cultural property in the face of organised looting and damage. Over 300 items have been returned to Italy from North American public and private collections as a result of this benchmark for cultural property. (The value of this Convention is discussed on “Looting Matters“.)

Among the WHS locations in the USA is the Statue of Liberty that was inscribed on the list back in 1984. As UNESCO states, the statue “endures as a highly potent symbol – inspiring contemplation, debate, and protest – of ideals such as liberty, peace, human rights, abolition of slavery, democracy, and opportunity”.

Nelson, Neptune and Britannia at Greenwich

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Greenwich, Nelson pediment © David Gill

The Nelson pediment at Greenwich is full of classical allusion. It was designed by Benjamin West and completed in 1812 (note the inscription below the central group).

At the centre is the body of Nelson presented to the helmeted Britannia by a Triton on behalf of Neptune (at the left). A winged victory presents Neptune’s trident to Britannia, indicating that Nelson’s victory has provided control of the sea. A British sailor is adjacent to Neptune with the announcement ‘Trafalgar’.

On the other wide are the personifications of the nation states of Great Britain: Scotland (with a thistle), England (with a rose), and Ireland (with a shamrock). (Note the absence of Wales.) Between these ‘kingdoms’ and Britannia is a winged figure (a ‘Naval Genius’) reminding the viewer of the victories at the Nile and Copenhagen. The lion holds a tablet reminding us of the 122 (CXXII) battles fought by Nelson.

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Greenwich, Nelson pediment © David Gill

The pediment forms part of the Nelson Trail in Greenwich.

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Philippi

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The forum, Philippi © David Gill

The Roman colony of Philippi in Macedonia, northern Greece, has been designated as one of the latest additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites (“Philippi becomes UNESCO World Heritage site“, ekathimerini.com 15 July 2016). Excavations have revealed parts of the Roman city including a series of Byzantine churches.

The site is described as follows:
The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BCE. The vibrant Hellenistic city of Philip II, of which the walls and their gates, the theatre and the funerary heroon (temple) are to be seen, was supplemented with Roman public buildings such as the Forum and a monumental terrace with temples to its north. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.

The colony was the setting of the Apostle Paul’s mission to Macedonia as described in the Acts of the Apostles.