Heritage Day 2019 (2020)

 

The postponed Heritage Day 2019, arranged by the Heritage Alliance, was held at The Tower of London in February 2020. The Parliamentary Undersecretary of State, Nigel Huddlestone MP, gave his first speech on heritage and tourism.

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)?

West Kennet Long Barrow: MPBW sign

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West Kennet Long Barrow © Patrick Taylor

The West Kennet long barrow was placed on the 1882 Schedule of Ancient Monuments. It now lies within the Avebury World Heritage Site. The scientific excavation took place in 1955–56.

Radiocarbon dates suggest that the monument was constructed in the period 3,700–3,600 BC, more than a millennium earlier than was thought in the 1960s.

The Tin Coast and Poldark

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The Crowns Engine Houses at Botallack © David Gill

The BBC Drama Series ‘Poldark‘ is set in Cornwall in what is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ‘Tin Coast‘ includes the Crowns Engine Houses at Botallack in the care of the National Trust.

Heritage locations used in the filming of the series have been listed by Visit Cornwall.

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.

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.