This Saturday is World Heritage Day. All over the globe people will take a moment to consider sites of great significance.
There are just over 1000 sites on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage List – an impressive roll call of places that have been agreed to have internationally significant cultural or natural heritage, whose outstanding universal value transcends national boundaries and are important for all of us and for future generations.
Here, in Bo’ness, we are lucky enough to have one such site right on our doorstep – the Antonine Wall.
The Wall, which runs across Scotland from Old Kilpatrick in the west to Bo’ness in the east was once the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire.
It was built by Roman soldiers for the Emperor Antoninus Pius around AD 142, their efforts commemorated by a unique group of milestones.
And today, nearly 2000 years later, it’s still possible to see large parts of this once mighty frontier – if you have yet to visit, we would highly recommend going and imagining what it must once have been like to be a Roman soldier living on the wall, which at the time marked, virtually, the edge of the world. Today it forms part of an international World Heritage Site, the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.
Sites like the Antonine Wall have a power to spark the imagination and to transport our minds into the past.
World Heritage Sites such as the Antonine Wall help us to better understand our place in the world and appreciate our shared history.
Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, Europe and external affairs, said: “Scotland has five World Heritage Sites and we have a responsibility to protect and maintain these sites to ensure future generations have a chance to enjoy them.
“We have taken significant steps to protect this historic and cultural legacy by creating an all-embracing strategy for the whole of our historic environment, Our Place in Time – The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland.
“The strategy provides a framework for all parts of the sector and beyond to work together to achieve a lasting legacy for our rich historic surroundings.
“We must work together to protect these sites, making good use of the skills, experience and resources of all parties to realise the benefits and values of our historic environment.
“The Scottish Government will continue to support local communities to make the most of these sites, so that everyone in the area can continue to enjoy the Antonine Wall now and for generations to come.”
To help mark the event there is an open day at Kinneil House tomorrow (Saturday) from noon-3pm (last admission 2.30pm). Kinneil Estate is located on the western edge of Bo’ness and has remnants of the Antonine Wall within the grounds. There will be costumed performers taking part as well as plenty of other fun things to see and do.
“Gaining World Heritage Site status is a major achievement and focuses international attention on our area,” said Bo’ness councillor Adrian Mahoney, Falkirk Council’s convener of environment and heritage.