CULTURAL HERITAGE: Antonine Wall Project hosts peer-learning after inclusion in best practice guide

By Lauren Crooks

The Rediscovering the Antonine Wall Project will host a peer-learning session for delegates from across Europe after the Project was chosen as an example of best practice.

The virtual session, titled ‘Social inclusion and involvement of communities through cultural heritage’ is being held as a forum  to exchange knowledge and expertise on cultural heritage.

The visit will take place over five days from Monday 26 April, with delegates being shown a range of videos which showcase key sites along the wall, projects that have come about as part of Rediscovering the Antonine Wall, and interviews with communities who have helped to co-develop projects.

The virtual visit will cover topics including access to cultural heritage, audience development, regeneration, partnerships and culture for social inclusion.

In addition, delegates have identified preferred topics for discussion including how to involve hard to reach groups, developing socially inclusive programmes, organising funding, working with partners and involving communities.

The project offered to host the visit after being picked as one of only 30 sites to be included in the European guide for Cultural Heritage in Action, and the only one from the UK.

It was chosen from thousands of heritage projects following an application made by Historic Environment Scotland in partnership with the project’s lead authority West Dunbartonshire Council and the other five local authorities the wall runs through.

The visit will be managed by a team from the EU and hosted by both the project team from West Dunbartonshire Council and Historic Environment Scotland.

Participants are attending from countries including Denmark, Italy, Dublin, Poland, Spain, Belgium, France, Germany and Finland in addition to elsewhere in the UK.

Emma McMullen, Project Manager for Rediscovering the Antonine Wall, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming participants from a range of organisations based across Europe with the common interest in learning about cultural heritage and sharing expertise with each other to take our respective projects forward.

“Unfortunately the visit was unable to take place in person, however the videos created for the visit by Eurocities will give delegates a great virtual insight to everything we have achieved so far as part of the Rediscovering Antonine Wall Project particularly with regard to engaging more diverse audiences.”

Patricia Weeks, Antonine Wall World Heritage Site Co-ordinator, Historic Environment Scotland, said: “This virtual visit gives us the opportunity to showcase the ways in which the Antonine Wall, such a significant heritage asset across Central Scotland, can be used by local communities and contribute significantly to local regeneration and regional place-making.”

The Antonine Wall marked the most north-westerly point of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century AD and became part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site in 2008, alongside Hadrian’s Wall and the German Limes. The Council areas it passes through – West Dunbartonshire, Glasgow, East Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire and Falkirk –joined forces with Historic Environment Scotland to bring its fascinating story back to life.

The £2.1million project aims to improve awareness of and engagement with the UNESCO World Heritage Site among local communities along the line of the Wall and with visitors from further afield.

Roman themed play parks, designed with local schoolchildren, are being created at sites near to the Wall so children and young people can explore and play while finding out about its history.  Replica stone distance slabs and specially designed sculptures are also being installed along its length, and new ways of enabling people to reach the sites are being trialled, including Cycling Without Age trishaws where trained cycle pilots can take those with mobility issues out along the Wall.

In addition, a programme of 30 community projects, including a Scouts Big Roman Camp Out, community murals created by young people, a Roman-inspired community gardens and an arboretum, are being developed in collaboration with communities along the Wall, allowing the project team to engage with hard to reach groups and highlight that the Antonine Wall is for everyone.

The project is being funding by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Kelvin Valley & Falkirk LEADER, WREN, Falkirk Environment Trust, and Falkirk Community Trust alongside the local authorities and Historic Environment Scotland.

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