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.

World Heritage at Greenwich

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Greenwich © David Gill

We took a group of students to explore different aspects of the World Heritage Site at Greenwich. The view down through the Royal Naval Hospital towards the hospital (and Canary Wharf beyond) must be one of the most stunning in the south of England.

Students were able to look at the Cutty Sark, the hospital, the National Maritime Museum and the Royal Observatory.

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.