On World Heritage Day this Monday (18th April) three iconic National Trust landscapes and places will celebrate thirty years as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Established in the 1970s by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the World Heritage Convention recognises places of natural or cultural interest that are of international importance, protecting them for future generations.
The United Kingdom joined the UNESCO scheme in 1986.
In that year seven places in the UK were granted World Heritage status. They included three iconic landscapes now in the care of the National Trust: Giant’s Causeway, Stonehenge and Avebury Landscape, and Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens.
Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland was the only place awarded World Heritage status in 1986 for its importance as a natural landscape.
Formed over millions of years, the Giant’s Causeway is famous for its tall basalt columns. The columns inspired one of the legends associated with Finn McCool (or Finn mac Cumhaill), the fair haired giant who – it is claimed – built the causeway in order to do battle with Benandonner, a Scottish rival.
View across part of the Giant’s Causeway, Co. Antrim. These basaltic columns were formed during a period of violent geological activity. (C) National Trust Images/Joe Cornish
Eleanor Killough, National Trust Learning and Visitor Experience Manager at Giant’s Causeway, said: “It is a privilege to assist in managing such an important landmark. Those of us who work here know how much the causeway is valued both by international visitors and the local community.”
This weekend, visitors to Giant’s Causeway can celebrate thirty years of the site’s World Heritage status with trails, family craft activities and music from around the globe.
Wiltshire’s Stonehenge and Avebury, also celebrating its thirtieth year as a World Heritage site, is one of the best places in northern Europe for prehistoric monuments, most famously Stonehenge and the stone circle at Avebury. The National Trust cares for the Avebury stones and much of the grassland landscape that surrounds Stonehenge.
All this year visitors can walk this ancient landscape with the Avebury 50km walking challenge.
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens in North Yorkshire boasts a more recent history. The magnificent Cistercian monastery – dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539 – was later incorporated into the elegant water gardens of John Aislabie, a socially ambitious politician of the eighteenth century.
Since being designated a World Heritage site in 1986, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens has welcomed nine million visitors.
Sarah France, World Heritage Coordinator and Conservation Manager at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Garden, said: “With 800 years of human history in one landscape, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal World Heritage Site has a wealth of stories that offer a fascinating window into the past. It is a truly unique place; breathtakingly beautiful throughout the seasons.”
Celebrate thirty years of world heritage with the National Trust this weekend
Giant’s Causeway World Heritage Day
Giant’s Causeway Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Sun 17 April; 9:00 – 19:00
Take a 2-hour guided walk with a National Trust conservation expert and plant wildflowers, or join us in the Visitor Centre for a themed-treasure trail, crafts and world music with Belfast musical ensemble, Los Dramaticos. Normal admission applies; National Trust members free admission. Book online for discount at www.giantscausewaytickets.com. To book a place on the guided walk call: 028 2073 3419.
Avebury 50km Walking Challenge
Discover eight walks in Stonehenge and Avebury’s ancient landscape, finding out more about the area’s wildlife and archaeology on the way. Totalling 50km, each of the eight walks varies in length from between 3km (approx 2 miles) to 9.5km (approx. 6 miles). Registration for this self-led challenge costs £10, with all money going towards conserving these special landscapes. Register before the end of 2016 and you will be entered into a prize draw, with the chance to win £300 voucher to spend with our partners Cotswold Outdoor.
Exhibition: Thirty years of World Heritage Site
Fountains Hall, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Gardens, North Yorkshire
Sat 16 April – Wed 29 June; 10:30 – 17:30
Find out about the achievements and challenges involved in maintaining the World Heritage site at a special exhibition in Fountains Hall (Saturday 16 April – Wednesday 29 June). Exclusive to this weekend (16 – 17 April, 11am – 4pm), try designing your own landscape garden and discover what life as an eighteenth century gardener would have been like at our historical gardeners’ tent.