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Antonine Wall - furthest boundary of the Roman Empire - is to be UK's next nomination for World Heritage Site

23 January 2007

The Antonine Wall, connecting the Forth and the Clyde in Scotland, and built in the 2nd Century as the furthest north west boundary of the Roman Empire, has been put forward by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell as the UK’s latest nomination for World Heritage Site status.

If successful, the Wall will join The Tower of London, Canterbury Cathedral, The Palace of Westminster and the other 24 UK World Heritage Sites.  

UNESCO, who are responsible for the scheme, will now examine the proposal and make a final decision next year.

The proposed site is being nominated as an extension to the trans-national Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site which includes Hadrian’s Wall and the Upper German Raetian Limes, which was designated in 2005.

Tessa Jowell said:

"The Antonine Wall is one of the UK’s most important Roman monuments and a fascinating part of our European heritage. It is this international dimension that is most exciting to me. I hope that it will one day encompass remains of the Roman frontiers not only here and in Germany, but also around the rest of Europe, the Mediterranean region of North Africa and the Middle East".

Patricia Ferguson MSP, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport said:

"The Antonine Wall is significant not only as a visible reminder of one of the most powerful states that the world has ever seen, but also as part of a great network of frontiers which the Roman Empire constructed in order to protect itself.

"In Scotland we are fortunate enough to have such tangible links to the country’s fascinating history that we are all able to enjoy. It would be a great honour for the Antonine Wall to be recognised as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site."

Notes to Editors
Further information on the Antonine Wall is available on the World Heritage section of the Historic Scotland website and in a previous news article.

Geographical co-ordinates to the nearest second

The east end of the Antonine Wall lies at National Grid Reference NT 032 807 at a latitude of 56 degrees 00 seconds north and a longitude of 3 degrees 32 seconds west.

The west end of the Antonine Wall lies at National Grid Reference NS 458 730 at a latitude of 55 degrees and 55 seconds north and a longitude of 4 degrees 28 seconds west

Textual description of the boundaries of the nominated Property

The proposed Site extends for a distance of 60 km from the eastern end of the Antonine Wall at the modern town of Bo’ness on the Firth of Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde.

The proposed Site includes all the linear elements of the frontier, that is the rampart, ditch and outer mound, and the Military Way where its location is recorded, together with the forts, fortlets, expansions and small enclosures together with civil settlements where known and the temporary camps along the Wall used by the soldiers building the frontier.

The World Heritage Site has been defined in the following way. Along the line of the Wall the southern boundary of the World Heritage Site has been placed 5 m to the south of the rampart and then projected 50 m to the north of this line creating a corridor 50 m wide. This corridor includes the three main linear features together with other elements that are likely to lie immediately beyond the known archaeology. The corridor is widened where necessary to include forts, fortlets, the Military Way and other elements of the frontier which are attached to the linear barrier. Camps, usually placed at some distance from the Wall, are defined separately. The corridor is also widened to incorporate within the proposed World Heritage Site areas protected through scheduling under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. In such circumstances the proposed Site extends to the whole size of the scheduled area except where that area relates to a monument of a different period.

The concept of World Heritage Sites is at the core of the World Heritage Convention, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, to which 183 nations belong. Through the Convention, UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of the cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The Convention required the establishment of the World Heritage List, under the management of an inter-governmental World Heritage Committee as a means of recognising that some places, both natural and cultural, are of sufficient importance to be the responsibility of the international community as a whole. As a member of the Convention, States Parties are pledged to care for their World Heritage sites as part of protecting their national heritage.

Nominations for inscription on the World Heritage List are made by the appropriate States Parties and are subject to rigorous evaluation by expert advisers to the World Heritage Committee, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for cultural sites and/or the World Conservation Union (IUCN) for natural sites. Decisions on the selection of new World Heritage Sites are taken by the World Heritage Committee at its annual summer meetings. There are currently 830 World Heritage Sites in 138 States Parties. Some 644 are cultural sites, 162 are natural and 24 are mixed.

Inclusion in the World Heritage List is essentially honorific and leaves the existing rights and obligations of owners, occupiers and planning authorities unaffected.  A prerequisite for World Heritage Site status is, nevertheless, the existence of effective legal protection and the establishment or firm prospect of management plans agreed with site owners to ensure each site’s conservation and presentation.

The UK’s World Heritage Sites are currently:

Ironbridge Gorge
Stonehenge, Avebury & Associated Sites
Durham Castle & Cathedral
Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
Castles & Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
Blenheim Palace
City of Bath
Hadrian’s Wall
Westminster Palace, Westminster Abbey & St Margaret’s Church
Tower of London
Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey & St Martin’s Church
Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
Maritime Greenwich
Heart of Neolithic Orkney
The Historic Town of St George  & Related Fortifications, Bermuda
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
Derwent Valley Mills
New Lanark
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

Giant’s Causeway
St Kilda (dual Natural and Cultural site)
Henderson Island
Gough and Inaccessible Islands
Dorset and East Devon Coast

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