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Edinburgh World Heritage/Our Heritage/Celebrating continental connections on Heritage Awareness Day

Celebrating continental connections on Heritage Awareness Day


20th September 2018

Edinburgh World Heritage

Scotland has a long and proud history of political and cultural links across Europe.

The ‘Auld Alliance’ with France dates back to a 1295 treaty promising military help for each country if the other was invaded by England. Rosemary Goring writes that ‘in the 1400s, two per cent of the entire Scottish population was employed in its army’ and that ‘anyone who was alive in 1906 still retains the right to become a naturalised French citizen should they wish.’

Architectural details like crow stepped gables reveal Belgian and Flemish influences. Polish links run deep – Chris McCall estimates that over 30,000 Scots have moved there since treaties in the 14th century were first signed to encourage trade. Scottish mercenaries fought and died in the Swedish royal army, with Gothenburg becoming a popular trading port for Scots merchants. Germany relations date back to 1297, when William Wallace wrote to the mayors of Lübeck and Hamburg declaring Scotland open for business. Scotland had twice the number of number of universities as England did until the 19th century, all founded by outward-looking Scots who had spent time in Europe and fostered academic connections with the likes of Paris, Orleans, Lueven in Belgium and Pavia in Italy, according to Kylie Murray.

More recently, Edinburgh is now revered as a festival city that celebrates its international links and welcomes performers and audiences from every corner of the globe – and EU nationals make up a percentage of our national orchestras and ballets.

These are just a few examples of Scotland’s role in Europe. Scots have long appreciated the importance of multiculturalism, openness and dialogue. As we mark Heritage Awareness Day, and the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage, we hope for a continued appreciation of our shared cultural heritage.

Our work in Europe

Our International Training Officer, Gabriella Laing, at the latest Approach meeting

Edinburgh World Heritage’s international programme is a tool to influence and improve historic city management policies. It is about bringing knowledge, resources and good practices to Edinburgh while sharing our own experience with international partners. We are proud to be a respected member of a dynamic and international network of organisations and experts.

Much of this work takes places across the European continent – here are just a few examples of our current collaborations:

  • The AtlasWH project aims to create a network of urban World Heritage sites by addressing common challenges related to the protection of their identity, while enhancing their cultural assets, in order to stimulate heritage-led economic and cultural development. Currently taking place in Edinburgh, Porto, Santiago de Compostela, Bordeaux and Florence
  • The APPROACH project captured 3-D digital representations of four historic cities as they developed through time – Edinburgh, Lublin, Granada and Budapest
  • ProPEACE is a strategic partnership involving ten partners from France, Iceland, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Italy, Canada, Israel and Scotland, with the aim to develop a universal language for conservation that may be applied and understood across Europe, helping to rethink the heritage approach
  • The REDIAPRO program – Revival of Disappearing Architectural Professions – provides a forum for preserving traditional architectural building and craft professions, with activities in Edinburgh, Vilnius, Cluj Napoca Perugia and more

“Edinburgh’s heritage is deeply, inextricably linked with that of Europe’s, and indeed the wider world,” says Krzysztof Chuchra, International Programme Project Manager at Edinburgh World Heritage. “The city’s history has been enriched by its connections to the continent, whether they be military, economic, intellectual, cultural, political or otherwise, and likewise Edinburgh’s exports in the field of philosophy, engineering, science, medicine and art are world-renown.”

“We strive to ensure that Edinburgh’s expertise in the field of cultural heritage conservation continues to be recognised internationally, and we look forward to exchanging ideas and solutions and building capacity with our partners for many years to come.”

Visit Historic Environment Scotland’s website for more on Heritage Awareness Day 2018, and visit the EU’s website for more on the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

What are your favourite connections with Europe that should be celebrated in Edinburgh?

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