Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Director's Notes - June 2010

Monthly update from EWH Director Adam Wilkinson.

Jun 15, 2010

A Russian friend recently observed to me that his countrymen tend to sleep through the cold winters and then engage in their entire year’s work in the baking summer, explaining why, in his mind, all those now living in consistently warm climes appear completely manic and burn out quickly.

Much like those Russian cities, May is the month in which the Edinburgh seems to come to life, and we were lucky to be able to capture the Times’ former Moscow Correspondent, Clem Cecil for an evening at No 5, where she reminded us of why we do what we do, with an excellent talk on the heroes of Russian conservation. Clem is one of the founders of MAPS – the Moscow Architectural Preservation Society – an organisation that makes one grateful for Edinburgh.

Keeping with the international theme, a round table discussion was recently held with the World Monuments Fund to help focus progress with the burial grounds initiative. The two main pieces of work are the establishment of an independent trust to act on behalf of the five grounds at the heart of the World Heritage Site (which is underway), and the working up of a report identifying all relevant aspects of any potential project for the burial grounds, as well as potential models.

I had the privilege to be invited for 14 ash-cloud-dodging hours in Stockholm to speak at a massed seminar of concerned citizens and organisations in Stockholm, alongside a humbling range of international experts invited along by Europa Nostra in Sweden to discuss how the city can address some of the extremely large developments proposed for it.  Like Edinburgh, Stockholm is a city of hills and valleys, albeit with water in the valleys and islands on the hill tops, but the topography of the city is vital to understanding its character. I focused down on the Edinburgh views study, part funded by EWH, that works on the basis of viewing cones rather than a simple two dimensional corridor. Feedback is that the seminar helped inform thinking about that city’s future, with the wall of development for the Sodermalm area now facing the axe.

Leaping on to the somewhat tenuous maritime link between the two cities, we’re delighted that the work of the Twelve Monuments Project to the Nelson Monument has been chosen to go forward to the National Lottery Awards semi-finals for heritage project of the year. The very fact that the project was chosen is high praise indeed – we seem to have struck the right balance of conservation, interpretation and education for the HLF of a publicly accessible building.

At the other end of the scale of repair, it’s a pleasure to be able to support the repair of a mortsafe in Greyfriars Kirkyard – a curiousity to some perhaps, but which tells a ghoulish tale of body-snatchers, death and commemoration. For those with an interest in this area, our PhD candidate, Kirsten McKee, is organising a conference of the very question of death and commemoration in architectural history on 24 - 25 June.

At a slightly less cerebral, but equally fascinating level, we have added another trail to our website (and hard copies are available from the office), on “Auld Reekie”, following life at the end of the 18th Century, and making use of the lovely illustrations of Paul Sandby. Let us know what you think, and what other trails we should be finding.

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