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Seven UK sites in the running to win UNESCO World Heritage status

The Shambles in York - a city on the UK's 'tentative list' for UNESCO honour thanks to its rich Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman history
The Shambles in York - a city on the UK's 'tentative list' for UNESCO honour thanks to its rich Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman history Copyright Copyright Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Copyright Copyright Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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Six sites on UK soil and one in its overseas territory of the Cayman Islands are in with the possibility of being added to UNESCO's sought after World Heritage list

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Seven UK sites - including one in its overseas territories - are in the running to win UNESCO World Heritage status.

The ancient city of York, The Zenith of Iron Age Shetland in Scotland and The Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas, in the UK overseas territory of the Cayman Islands, are among the standouts on the list.

Birkenhead Park in Merseyside, in north west England, is also a popular addition. The park opened in 1847 as a pioneering project to bring greenery to urban environments; it’s since inspired the creation of green spaces across the world, including New York's iconic Central Park.

Copyright Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The Roman Boathouse and lake in Birkenhead Park, MerseysideCopyright Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The UNESCO designation, which is recognised globally, is given to places of historical, cultural or scientific significance.

The UK is already home to 33 World Heritage sites in the UK, including Westminster Abbey, Stonehenge and Blenheim Palace. Globally, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Acropolis of Athens are among the most famous on the list.

The UK government adds choices to a ‘tentative list’, which is published about once a decade and includes locations they feel have the best chance of being included in the ranking.

Copyright 2023 The AP
Fighter jets fly over the UNESCO heritage site of the Acropolis hill during Greek Independence Day in Athens, Greece last monthCopyright 2023 The AP

Gracehill Moravian Church Settlement in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, and the Flow Country, an area of peatland in the north of Scotland which plays a crucial role in supporting biodiversity, were already on the list. 

The East Atlantic Flyway is also included. It’s a famous migratory bird route over western parts of Europe including the east coast of England and plays a vital role in bird and wildlife population upkeep and sees a vast transient bird population pass through each year.

Laura Davies, the UK’s Ambassador to UNESCO, commented on the list, saying: "It is great that the UK is contributing to making World Heritage more representative. These five (newly added) sites brilliantly reflect the diversity and beauty of the UK and its overseas territories' natural and cultural heritage, and I look forward to working with them towards World Heritage listing".

The UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will now work with local authorities of the places nominated to develop the bids and increase their likelihood of getting a spot on the much sought-after UNESCO list.

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