Posted by: ed | July 1, 2008

World Heritage decision due

KINNEIL Estate in Bo’ness could be just days away from becoming part of a World Heritage Site.

The UN Cultural body UNESCO is meeting in Canada this week and next to decide if the Antonine Wall – which runs through the estate – is worthy of the international status. Supporters believe the World Heritage tag would be a massive boost to tourism in the area.

If approved, the Scottish frontier would join other World Heritage Sites like the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China on a must-see list places. Already Hadrian’s Wall – the Roman Frontier in Northern England – is a World Heritage Site.

Bo’ness Councillor Adrian Mahoney, the convener of environment and heritage at Falkirk Council, said he was hoping for a positive outcome. He said: “It would be a great honour for the Antonine Wall to become the UK’s next World Heritage Site. I really hope this bid is successful as it will bring tourists to Bo’ness and the surrounding area.”

A notice on the UNESCO website says: “The World Heritage Committee will consider requests for the inscription of new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List when it meets for its 32nd session in Québec, Canada, from 2 to 10 July . . .

“To date, UNESCO’s 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage protects 851 properties of ‘outstanding universal value,’ including 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties in 141 States Parties.”

The Antonine Wall was built around 142 AD on the orders of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. It survived as the north-west frontier of the Roman empire for a generation before being abandoned in the 160s in favour of a return to Hadrian’s Wall. 

The main road through Bo’ness – Dean Road leading onto Grahamsdyke Road – was built on the line of the wall, covering the stone and turf structure. However, evidence of the frontier still exists at Kinneil Estate, where the remains of a Roman fortlet are on display. Artefacts from the period are also on show in neighbouring Kinneil Museum. You can also see the Wall around Bonnybridge, at Roughcastle, near the Falkirk Wheel; and at Callendar Park in Falkirk.

At Bridgeness, one of the best Roman finds in Britain was discovered – a distance slab from the Wall. A partial copy of the slab is on show in Harbour Road. However, Bo’ness Community Council is working with Council officials to bring a proper copy back to the town and put it on display. The impressive original is in the Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, Edinburgh.

The Wall ran from Bridgeness to Old Kilpatrick. To find out more about the Antonine Wall visit
www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/antoninewall

To find out more about UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee, visit http://whc.unesco.org/en

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