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World Heritage

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration[1]

World Heritage Sites are cultural and/or natural sites considered to be of outstanding universal value these places or buildings are considered to have special importance for everyone. They represent the most significant, unique or best examples of the world’s cultural and/or natural heritage.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity through the Convention for the protection of the world’s heritage which was drawn up in (1972).  The United Kingdom ratified the convention in 1984 and a further Convention was adopted in 2005.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) acts as the State Party for the whole of the UK and is responsible for the UK’s general compliance with the Convention.  Scottish Ministers identify and put forward Sites to DCMS for nomination.  Scottish Ministers are also responsible for ensuring compliance with the UNESCO Convention in relation to Sites in Scotland.  Historic Scotland carries out these roles for cultural sites on behalf of Scottish Ministers.

Where countries have World Heritage Sites they are responsible for their management ensuring their Outstanding Universal Value is sustained.

Scotland currently has six world heritage sites:

(New) *The Forth Bridge Forth Bridge

The Forth Bridge is an iconic monument to innovative engineering, the red cantilever bridge remains intact and operational in its original use following many decades of care and maintenance. The Bridge carries the mainline East Coast railway for 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometres) across the Firth of Forth between Fife on the north bank and Edinburgh and the Lothians to the south. The Site boundaries are defined by the single original contract that was let for the construction of the masonry and steel elements of the Bridge, and are represented in the original contract drawings.

The proposed World Heritage Site does not therefore extend beyond the Bridge itself because it is only for this single structure that outstanding universal value could be fully demonstrated. It is, however, contained at each end by existing Conservation Areas, and its immediate surroundings are therefore protected and managed by well-established designation and planning controls.

The Antonine Wall

Marking the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago, the wall is a complex frontier built by Roman soldiers for the Emperor Antonius Pius around AD 142 which runs across central Scotland. Antonine Wall - Crown Copyright Reproduced Courtesy of Historic Scotland

The Antonine Wall is part of the transnational Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site (FREWHS) which also includes Hadrian’s Wall and the German Limes.  In Scotland, a partnership of key local authorities and government agencies work together to manage the site. Management Plan

New Lanark

An eighteenth century restored cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde, New Lanark was moulded under the management of Robert Owen.  The integration of planning and architecture with consideration of workers well-being is a milestone in social and industrial history.  The mill manufactured cotton for nearly 200 years, up to 1968 and as a result the village remains relatively unchanged.

New Lanark is managed by three main partners: South Lanarkshire Council, Historic Scotland and the New Lanark Trust. Management Plan

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

The centre or Edinburgh is defined by its topography and the contrast between two distinct areas: the organic, medieval Old Town and the planned Georgian New Town.

The Old Town is dominated by the Castle but also incorporates the distinctive tall tenements, 16th and 17th Century houses of merchants and nobles, and early public buildings such as the Canongate Tolbooth and St Giles Cathedral.

The New Town was constructed between 1767 and 1890 and is the largest and best preserved example of Georgian town planning in the UK.  Neo-classical buildings designed by renowned architects are integrated with gardens and open spaces. Over 75% of all the buildings within the World Heritage Site are listed for their architectural or historic importance.

The site is managed by a partnership involving City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh World Heritage and Historic Scotland along with other key stakeholders. Management Plan

Heart of Neolithic Orkney

One of the richest surviving Neolithic landscapes in western Europe, the prehistoric buildings and monuments of the Orkney Islands were constructed five thousand years ago.  This collection of important domestic and ritual monuments including Skara Brae, Maeshowe, Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar, lie in a wider archaeological landscape near Stromness on the Mainland, Orkney.

Orkney - Crown Copyright Reproduced Courtesy of Historic Scotland

The site is managed by Historic Scotland and partners: Orkney Islands Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Management Plan

St Kilda

The most remote part of the British Isles, the archipelago of St Kilda lies 41 miles west of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides and consists of four islands: Hirta, Soay, Boreray and Dun, and several sea stacks.  St Kilda was home to a community for thousands of years and a wealth of archaeology remains evidencing human activity from prehistoric times.  The islands are now uninhabited as the final 36 residents were evacuated in 1930.

St Kilda is an important ornithological site and is recognised by UNESCO as a joint cultural and natural World Heritage Site.  Natural sites can also be designated for management through Biosphere Reserve and Geopark mechanisms.

The site is managed by a partnership between the National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Ministry of Defence. Management Plan

 [1] http://whc.unesco.org/en/about/