World Heritage Day

World Heritage Day is celebrated around the globe, raising awareness of the diversity of cultural heritage and the 1007 places listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

World Heritage Sites are cultural and/or natural sites (places or buildings) considered to be of outstanding universal importance. They are thought to represent the most significant, unique or best examples of the world’s cultural and/or natural heritage.

In Scotland, Historic Scotland lists the five recognised World Heritage Sites as:

St Kilda – a group of remote islands and sea stacs 100 miles off the west coast of Scotland. They host the largest colony of seabirds in Europe and unique populations of sheep, field-mice and wrens. Evocative cultural remains chart some 5000 years of history until evacuation in 1930

Heart of Neolithic Orkney – is one of the richest surviving Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe. Its impressive domestic and ritual monuments are masterpieces of Neolithic design and construction and give us exceptional insights into the society, skills and spiritual beliefs of the people who built them.

New Lanark - a restored 18th century cotton mill village situated in the narrow gorge of the River Clyde. Renowned for the enlightened management of the social pioneer Robert Owen, it was the biggest cotton mill in Scotland and one of the largest industrial groups in the world.

The Antonine Wall – marked the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire nearly 2000 years ago and was also its most complex frontier. Running across central Scotland, it was built by Roman soldiers for the Emperor Antoninus Pius around AD 142, their efforts commemorated by a unique group of milestones.

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh – forming one of the most beautiful cityscapes in the world. The city’s unique character springs from the contrast between the medieval Old Town, with its distinctive narrow passageways, and the 18th century New Town, the best preserved example of Georgian town planning in the UK.

This year World Heritage Day will be celebrated on 17 & 18 April, with a number of events in Edinburgh.

The Value of Heritage will be discussed in an event organised jointly by the City of Edinburgh Council and Edinburgh World Heritage. Join in to explore the benefits that World Heritage brings to all the community. Emphasis will be on the public value of the World Heritage Site, as a place of shared cultural memory, to attract investment, to regenerate the city and to stimulate international co-operation.  There will be contributions from a series of expert speakers:

Heritage is…inspiration: Sorcha Carey, Director of the Edinburgh Art Festival.

Heritage is…public value: Adam Wilkinson, Director of Edinburgh World Heritage

Heritage is…across borders: Guest speaker from Krakow, World Heritage City.

City Chambers; Friday 17 April, 6.00-7.30pm.  (Free but Booking Essential)

Celebrating World Heritage 2015 continues with a family afternoon out at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Saturday 18 April. Here you can find out about Scotland’s 5 World Heritage Sites with activities for children, presentations, and storytelling.  From 12-4pm, children (and those who are young at heart) will have the opportunity to try out lots of activities: to dress up as an eighteenth century mill worker; make a (cardboard) Roman sword; listen to magical stories; and handle replica prehistoric artefacts.

For adults, there will also be information about the recent 3D digital documentation of all five of Scotland’s world heritage sites by the Scottish Ten team  and the chance to talk to staff who help look after each of the sites.

Storyteller Stuart McHardy will present a selection of stories from Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites throughout the afternoon. Listen to him tell of Lady Grange of St. Kilda, Morocco Land in Edinburgh’s Old Town and Maeshowe and Odin’s Stone in Orkney amongst other tales. Performer, author and lecturer on a range of Scottish cultural topics, Stuart has a gift to entertain.

‘The Hotbed of Genius’ also on Saturday afternoon (2.30pm, booking essential) offers an exclusive chance to discover an unexplored part of Edinburgh’s past with Mercat Tours. 18th century Edinburgh was one of the most intellectually rich cities in Europe. The population was small: the space they lived in smaller. Yet form this tiny stage Edinburgh’s influence spread across the new world.  Exploring the medieval Old Town to the Georgian New Town, you will hear Edinburgh’s rich thinking in economics, philosophy, literature, education, geology, architecture and politics.  Hear about the lives of the men who fashioned these ideas: David Hume, Adam Smith, Walter Scott, James Hutton and many more. Their ideas were radical, their influence enormous, their lives fascinating.

Happy World Heritage Day!

For further information about these events, or to book tickets: and look for the World Heritage Day page.



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