Historic sites consultation – Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property

1 10 2010

A consultation has been launched to find out what people think about a document which will help manage and protect the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property Consultation Draft

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

This consultation is being hosted on behalf of the Stonehenge and Avebury Steering Committees of which Wiltshire Council is a member.

The Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property is one of Wiltshire’s greatest assets.  This consultation provides an opportunity for local people, community groups and other organisations to comment on its Statement of Outstanding Universal Value.  This Statement sets out formally why Stonehenge and Avebury are internationally important and what qualifies them to appear on the World Heritage List.  It also sets out how requirements for management and protection of these qualities are being met. 

This document is important for the protection of what makes Stonehenge and Avebury internationally significant.  It defines the World Heritage Site’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).  The United Kingdom signed up to protect the OUV of its World Heritage Sites when it ratified the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). 

The planning system has a very important role in this protection.  Planning Circular 07/2009 states clearly the need to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage Sites, while the guidance accompanying the new Planning Policy 5 on the Protection of the Historic Environment (2010) identifies the Statement of OUV as a critical resource for local planning authorities in plan-making and reaching decisions relating to the significance of World Heritage Sites.  The document will also inform all management decisions which should prioritise the protection OUV as defined in the Statement.  Your comments on the Statement of OUV could therefore contribute to protecting the very special qualities of Stonehenge and Avebury for this and future generations. 

Since 2007 UNESCO has required a Statement OUV for all new World Heritage Properties.  Stonehenge and Avebury were inscribed in 1986.  All sites inscribed prior to 2007 are now required to submit retrospectively a Statement of OUV. This must be based on the original reasons for inscription set out in evaluation and decision documents from 1986.  The process of producing the Statement of OUV is not an opportunity to change or add to the reasons for inscription but a chance to distil them into a single document which will be key the World Heritage Property’s protection. It is however possible to reflect challenges which have emerged over the last 25 years as well as changes in the management and protection context. 

The original documents submitted to UNESCO during the nomination of the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites World Heritage Property in 1986 can be accessed via this link to the UNESCO website: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/373/documents/ 

The Statement of OUV consists of four sections:The first section, the Statement of Significance, was agreed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in 2008 after a period of consultation and sign off by the Stonehenge and Avebury Steering Groups representing key local and national stakeholders. 

We are now due to submit the final three sections:

2. Statement of Integrity

3. Statement of Authenticity

4. Requirements for  Management and Protection

We would appreciate your comments to assist us in shaping a robust and comprehensive document.  

Please note comments are sought only on the last three sections: integrity, authenticity and management and protection.  The first section, the Statement of Significance, has already been agreed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

Guidance on the UNESCO definitions of authenticity and integrity can be found the World Heritage Operational Guidelines (paras 79 – 89 and Annex 4) which can be found at http://whc.unesco.org/en/guidelines/ Further background information can be found in the management plans for the two halves of the World Heritage Site.  They include sections summarising integrity and authenticity as well as the provisions for management and protection

You can access the Stonehenge Management Plan on the English Heritage website via this link http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/stonehenge/world-heritage-sites/stonehenge-management-plan/

You can access the Avebury Management Plan on the Wiltshire Council website via this link http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisureandculture/museumhistoryheritage/worldheritagesite/aveburyworldheritagesitemanagementplan.htm

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

Stonehenge a monumental attraction since prehistory

1 10 2010

Stonehenge may have been a top international tourist attraction in prehistoric times – just as it is today.

 Ongoing scientific research suggests that around 30 per cent of the wealthiest individuals buried around the neolithic and Bronze Age temple came from hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of miles away.

 Recent isotopic tests carried out by the British Geological Survey and announced yesterday reveal that one very high-status individual – a teenage boy – found buried near Stonehenge, had in fact come from somewhere along the north coast of the Mediterranean, potentially Spain, southern France or Italy.

 Another individual, whose origins were revealed a few years ago, came from the Alps – and others came from Brittany (or possibly Wales).

 The Alpine individual suffered from a painful leg condition and the Mediterranean teenager died aged 14 or 15 and is likely therefore to have also suffered from serious illness.

 Some archaeologists have therefore begun to speculate that Stonehenge attracted health tourists who went there to be cured – and ended up being buried there instead.

 Interestingly, a healing function for Stonehenge is hinted at by Arthurian legend, which holds that the monument was indeed an ancient healing centre. Even as late as the 18th century, the stones of Stonehenge were regarded as having magical healing powers – and visitors to the site often chipped bits off to take away as talismans.

 Certainly the monument was internationally known in ancient times – and appears to have been described by a fourth-century BC Greek geographer, centuries after it had actually gone out of use.

 Stonehenge’s international visitors were extremely wealthy. The Alpine man was buried with gold and copper objects – including three copper daggers and a pair of gold hair clasps.

 The Mediterranean teenager was buried wearing a necklace of around 90 amber beads.

 “Isotopic analyses of tooth enamel from both these people shows that the two individuals provide a contrast in origin, which highlights the diversity of people who came to Stonehenge from across Europe,” said Professor Jane Evans, head of archaeological science at the British Geological Survey.

 Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

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