Did you know April 18th is World Heritage Day?

on Tuesday, 20 March 2018. Posted in Archaeology, Events

World Heritage is the shared wealth of humankind. Protecting and preserving this valuable asset demands the collective efforts of the international community. This special day offers an opportunity to raise the public's awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage and the efforts that are required to protect and conserve it, as well as draw attention to its vulnerability.

Endorsed by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO the day is an opportunity to raise the profile of World Heritage Sites across the globe and to recognise and explore their unique and special features. Many of you will know the most famous Sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian Pyramids and the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil but did you know that we have 31 World Heritage Site in the United Kingdom and that the most recent of these is the Lake District which was added to the List last year? 

Here in Wiltshire we are incredibly fortunate to have the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Site – to use its proper title. The globally iconic stone circles are instantly recognisable but do you know about all the other monuments and sites which form part of this 50 square kilometre landscape which makes up our World Heritage Site? The partners that look after all things World Heritage are planning to make sure that this year Wiltshire marks World Heritage Day with an array of fun activities and events all across Wiltshire to help you find out more about our World Heritage and how to get involved.

At Avebury you can join the National Trust for a guided walk and find out why this World Heritage Site is globally important as you explore the landscape visiting the Bronze Age 'hedgehog' barrows and stroll down to Neolithic West Kennet Avenue. You'll discover some of the most exciting parts of the prehistoric landscape at Avebury.

Or join the Human Henge group for a more sensory experience of Avebury's ancient landscape. Human Henge is a ground-breaking project about archaeology, mental health and creativity that is interesting, adventurous, safe and fun. Walk, sing and learn in the company of archaeologists and musicians, connecting with others who have walked here before us.

At Stonehenge, English Heritage invite you to meet their friendly volunteering team. See them make and decorate prehistoric style pottery, fashion rope out of water reed, and make cheese and bread over the open fire in the Neolithic Houses.  Learn about the plants foraged from the Stonehenge landscape and chat to the volunteers as they repair the chalk daub walls of the houses.  There will be a chance to sign up and join this amazing team and learn some essential Neolithic life skills! There are also free guided walks around the site, a trail for grown-ups, prize giveaways during the day, and a Stonehenge100 talk by Archaeologist Phil Harding in the evening.

Local museums are getting involved too with a Family fun day at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes on Saturday 14th April where you and the kids can make a model of Stonehenge, take part in the ‘Early Man’ gallery trail and craft jewellery making. You can learn more about the temporary exhibition at Stonehenge Visitor Centre that explores the diet of the Neolithic people who built and used the monument 4500 years ago at Feast! A lecture by Sue Greaney, English Heritage Senior Properties Historian.

In Salisbury you can join Museum Director Adrian Green to discover more about the extraordinary life of General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers (1827 – 1900). This study day will include a morning lecture, opportunity to handle artefacts from the Pitt-Rivers collection and an afternoon visit to a few of the sites he excavated. You will need your own transport for this one.

Here at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre you can hear from World Heritage Site Partnership Manager, Sarah Simmonds, all about the Outstanding Universal Value that makes this landscape so special and of global significance. There will be an exhibition of images from the archives and a second, illustrated talk by Ruth Butler, the Heritage Education Officer at Wiltshire Council.  Book your place on 01249 705500 (tickets are £3.00).

"World Heritage Day is a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of the many things that are so special about our World Heritage Site landscape and to help people explore and enjoy it.  The World Heritage Site Coordination Unit has pulled together an exciting programme that will give you a taste of what the Site has to offer. We are grateful to our partners who are laying on a series of special events around World Heritage Day as well as for their day to day work together with local landowners, farmers and communities in protecting and managing this internationally important asset." 

(Alistair Sommerlad, Chair of the World Heritage Site Partnership Panel)

You can find out about the whole programme of events taking place in the weeks around World Heritage Site Day on the World Heritage Site Coordination Unit’s website or download the leaflet.

If you can’t make any of the events, why not head out on to one of the many footpaths and permissive paths or across open access land to explore this unique rural and tranquil prehistoric landscape for yourself? All are welcome to share in and experience Wiltshire’s amazing collective cultural heritage.

Helen Miah, Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site Partnership Officer

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