2016 marked the successful inscription of Gibraltar’s first World Heritage Site. The Gorham’s Cave Complex became the United Kingdom’s 30th World Heritage Site, significantly in the year that marked the 30th anniversary of the first United Kingdom sites to be inscribed.
To commemorate the landmark, Historic England recently organised a reception in the House of Lords which was hosted by Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE. The reception brought together the 30 World Heritage Sites, including Gibraltar, and was well attended by members of both houses.
Among the highlights of the evening, in which Gibraltar was represented by Professor Clive Finlayson and Dr Geraldine Finlayson, was the screening of a video showing the wide range of heritage encompassed by the United Kingdom sites. The Gorham’s Cave Complex featured alongside such emblematic sites as the Tower of London and Stonehenge.
Later, on the 15th December, Professor Finlayson gave the ICOMOS-UK Christmas Lecture, also in London. This was an opportunity to present the new World Heritage Site to an audience of heritage specialists, decisions makers, managers and a wider public. Overall, these events have served to project Gibraltar’s heritage to a wide audience as well as establishing new contacts within the United Kingdom’s community of World Heritage Sites.
Commenting at the start of 2017, new heritage Minister Dr John Cortes said that he looked forward to a fruitful 2017 in the field of heritage. Although the success of 2016 would be hard to match, he saw the coming year as one of consolidation and of taking the opportunity that World Heritage presented for Gibraltar. Having Heritage in the same Ministry as the Environment and Education also offered great scope in a variety of fields for the benefit of society.
Dr Cortes said that “Urban renewal, environmental regeneration and heritage education are examples of how quality of life can be improved and the sense of identity strengthened, particularly significant in the year which commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum”.