Heritage case studies: Scotland
Heritage case studies: Scotland

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Heritage case studies: Scotland

3.2 Justification by State Party

Activity 1

30 minutes

Read the Justification by State Party on the ICOMOS website (you only need to read the first nine pages which are the pages in English). How does the site meet the UNESCO criteria? Under which criteria were the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh listed? To what extent are the claims made supported by evidence?

Discussion

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were listed under World Heritage criteria (ii) and (iv), that is:

ii. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design …

iv. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history …

(World Heritage List, 2005)

The State Party cites surprisingly little comparative evidence for its claim that Edinburgh is ‘unique’ in its combination of medieval ‘Old Town’ and eighteenth-century ‘New Town’. There is a parallel drawn between the New Town and the city of Bath; however, this is not discussed in detail. Nonetheless, it provides a great deal of description of the place and its character to support the bid for World Heritage status, which was ultimately enough to convince the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. A large part of the significance of Edinburgh lies in its historical authenticity – that is, the absence of change to the medieval Old Town and the planned and designed New Town. This allows the two parts of the city to be understood as the result of the combination of organic medieval growth (in the case of the Old Town) and eighteenth- and nineteenth-century planning (in the case of the New Town).

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