Wednesday, 7 October 2009

2010 World Monuments Watch: the 93 most endangered heritage sites in the world

by Kathryn Hadley

The 2010 World Monuments Watch was announced this morning, October 7th, in London by World Monuments Fund Britain. The Watch is a list of endangered heritage sites worldwide which is compiled every two years. Sites can be nominated by anyone from individual citizens to conservation professionals. Nominations are then considered by a panel of experts who decide on the final list. Since the programme’s inception, more than 630 sites in 125 countries and territories have been included on the eight Watches.

The 2010 Watch includes 93 sites worldwide, from Afghanistan, to Uganda, Bhutan, Bolivia, the United States, Belgium and Ireland. The oldest monument on the list is 10,000 BC art in a Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa; the most recent is the Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library in Atlanta, Georgia, built in the 1970s. Six sites from the British Isles also feature on the 2010 Watch list.

British sites include a group of five graveyards in Edinburgh - Greyfriars Kirkyard, Canongate Kirkyard, St. Cuthberts Kirkyard, Old Calton Burial Ground and New Calton Burial Ground – where Adam Smith and David Hume are notably buried. Dr Jonathan Foyle, Chief Executive of World Monuments Fund Britain, described the sites, this morning, as a ‘repository of the Scottish Enlightenment’, which risks being lost forever if the headstones are left to rot.

Second on the list is Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church in Belfast designed in the Gothic Revival style by the architect W. H. Lynn and completed in 1875, when it was home to one of the largest Methodist congregations in Belfast. The four other sites include the Tecton buildings at Dudley Zoo constructed between 1935 and 1937; St John the Evangelist Parish Church in Shobdon, Herefordshire, an example of the mid 18th-century Rococo Gothic style; Russborough in County Wicklow in Ireland, a demesne designed for the First Earl of Milltown in the 1740s; and Sheerness Dockyard on the Isle of Sheppey. The dockyard, as it exists today, was built in 1815; however, its history dates back to Roman times and it continues to be used as a commercial port today.

As each of the sites worldwide on the 2010 Watch, the story of the Sheerness Dockyard is truly fascinating and deserves to be preserved.

In a 1998 article, Paul Wilkinson uncovers some fascinating links between the North Kent coast and a literary epic in Beowulf: New Light on the Dark Ages

Sheerness Dockyard

More pictures of some of the other sites worldwide are available on the website of the BBC.

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