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Navan Fort among Royal Sites of Ireland added to UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

Navan Fort

The Steering Group of the Royal Sites of Ireland – which includes Navan Fort in Armagh – welcomed the news this morning (Thursday) that they were announced as one of three successful bids to get on Ireland’s new World Heritage Tentative List.

The Royal Sites of Ireland are a group of six unique collectives of largely prehistoric monuments and sites associated in early medieval and medieval texts as the principal ancient sites of royal inauguration in Ireland.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Councillor Paul Greenfield commented: “Navan Fort is one of the most significant archaeological sites and viewed as the ancient capital of Ulster.

“I’m delighted that the journey continues towards achieving UNESCO World Heritage site status, with Navan Fort now placed on the new tentative list.”

Spread throughout the island, four of the sites represent the ancient Kingdoms of Ireland and its current provinces of North (Navan Fort), South (Rock of Cashel), East (Dún Ailline) and West (Rathcroghan). Tara was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland situated in the ancient ‘fifth’ province of Meath while the Hill of Uisneach the ‘omphalos’ or centre was where the five kingdoms met.

The respective local authorities of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Tipperary, Kildare, Roscommon, Meath and Westmeath, have been working together for many years to develop the Royal Sites of Ireland case for ‘outstanding universal value’ the key attribute for world heritage sites.

An application was made in June 2021 to be put on the new Tentative List in the hope that we would be able to move forward with the process towards nomination. In line with UNESCO guidelines, a site must first be on its State’s Tentative List, before it can be considered eligible to move forward with a bid for World Heritage status. Being on the Tentative List is the first step in a long process.

The Royal Sites Steering Group is very much looking forward to starting their journey towards nomination. A critical element of this will be partnership, working with landowners, local and national stakeholders and the Department and we look forward to beginning this process together in the coming months.

World Heritage Properties are sites of cultural and/or natural heritage designated by UNESCO to be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) to humanity. Ireland has currently two properties on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Brú na Bóinne and Sceilg Mhichíl, both inscribed in the 1990s.

In line with UNESCO guidance to revise the Tentative List every ten years, in January 2019, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage sought applications to a new Tentative List for Ireland, to replace the current list dating to 2010. All Local Authorities were requested to make applications to the Department with respect to any sites within their jurisdiction. Six applications were received by the June 2021 deadline, as follows:

1. The Neolithic Passage Tomb Landscape of County Sligo;
2. Trans-Atlantic Cable Ensemble: Valentia, County Kerry-Heart’s Content, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada;
3. The Royal Sites of Ireland;
4. The Cultural Landscape of the Burren Uplands, County Clare;
5. Iniscealtra (Inis Cealtra), County Clare;
6. Glendalough Valley, County Wicklow

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