My comment to this may sound cynical, but I wonder whether / to what extent the UK authorities have actually listened and incorporated the feedback from ICOMOS / UNESCO. Reading the ICOMOS report on Wearmouth/Jarrow just felt like reading one about Darwin... The whole nomination seems to have been built upon the fame and aura of Bede - an approach that had failed with Darwin's Lab (and with Mt Vernon, for that matter - if I remember correctly a lot of the nomination was about G Washington).
There certainly does appear to have been a degree of wilfulness about some of UK's past approach to stretching the inscription rules as well as the recent rejections of Darwin and Jarrow we have had in the more distant past the Lake District rejected whilst blazing the path to make Cultural Landscapes acceptable for everyone else, and also SS Great Britain was it "moveable" or not!!
But UK did really seem to try with Jarrow. The nomination was delayed whilst consultants were brought in to beef it up at some cost in terms of money and effort no doubt. As I said, they had the benefit of advice and guidance from ICOMOS UK in particular from Susan Denyer, who receives an acknowledgement in the Nomination file and who is a member of the UK's T List Expert Group. She has a "reputable history" within ICOMOS and was involved in the preparation of the "Filling the Gaps" report for instance, again receiving particular recognition. Would such advice really not have involved dealings with the ICOMOS "centre" itself? The advisors include European input e.g a Professor (Dr Marcus Sanke) from Bamberg who appears to be an expert on Lorsch Monastery. Perhaps too many of them consisted of, possibly blinkered, academics from Durham and Leeds but this nomination wasn't produced by a load of "ignoramuses". How could they have got it so wrong or indeed did they?
If we look at the areas of criticism by ICOMOS, we find that there is hardly anything about the site which it found acceptable it wasn't just the over-emphasis on Bede which was a problem!!
a. Comparative Analysis
. "ICOMOS considers that the comparative analysis does not justify consideration of this property for the World Heritage List."
The main reason given is that Jarrow has had the "privilege" of having been professionally excavated, whilst other places (un-named!!) haven't, so "probably, comparable evidence of perhaps even earlier monastic complexes is present at other Northern and Central European sites"
. This seems an excessively hard requirement of proof to justify! If we take a place like Kuk for instance I don't remember anyone saying that there might be "Better" agricultural sites as yet unexcavated somewhere in PNG!
b. Integrity "ICOMOS further notes that, following extensive changes to the settings of both the component properties, the historic access routes, both by land and sea, can no longer be understood. ICOMOS therefore considers that integrity has not been justified."
. This issue must surely have been clear to everyone throughout the nomination process but no one else thought that this fact invalidated the site's "Integrity"!
. "ICOMOS considers that it is impossible to evaluate the authenticity of the below-ground archaeological remains; as such this can only be done on the basis of archaeological excavation records and the recorded state of conservation in the late 1970s"
. Well everyone has known that right from the start! Even the bit of "authenticity" which is conceded is only done so in the most GRUDGING way "Despite the significant architectural changes, religious visitors and pilgrims seem able to experience the relationship of the architectural structures with Bede and perhaps for the limited context of religious visitors, authenticity in spirit and feeling could be justified"
Criteria ii, iii, iv and vi Not a single one met. (ii) - Because other sites haven't been as well researched and because the "prototype" character of the site hasn't been demonstrated! (iii) - Again because other possible sites in Europe haven't been "subject to comparable archaeological investigation"
. (iv) - Because this aspect had already been covered under (ii) and it hadn't been demonstrated that it was any more significant in N Europe than e.g Lorsch. (vi) Because of the "Bede problem" by which associative but non-tangible links are not relevant. Thus, of the 4 "claimed" OUV criteria only one relied on Bede, but all 4 were rejected
The ICOMOS Technical Evaluator was a Dr Adriano Boschetti, a Swiss national who is a Lecturer in Mediaeval Archaeology at the University of Zurich and has been doing such evaluations for ICOMOS since 2008. His CV is here ( http://www.khist.uzh.ch/Titularprofessuren-Privatdozierende/Boschetti.html
) and seems primarily to relate to Swiss archaeology. I couldn't pass judgement on his professional objectivity and the suitability of his knowledge and, in any case, one presumes that ICOMOS would operate adequate quality assurance procedures. But how can it be that a nomination from a developed country with full access to such advice and guidance as it needs from experts across the World and which is willing to throw money at the problem can get everything
so very wrong!
I am not suggesting that Jarrow was a strong candidate but I do wonder how even-handed and objective the ICOMOS evaluations are across the whole range of nominations and how much depends on the personal views of the Evaluator. I just do NOT believe that all sites are evaluated to the same open and objective criteria. We have already had on this Forum, examples of criticisms of other nominations both for having linked together too many sites and for not linking together enough! Sometimes it seems that a site can't do right for doing wrong. ICOMOS has pleaded with the WHC not to overturn "professional" judgements, but that does require that those judgements be fully justifiable. One wonders whether some evaluations reach their conclusions first for all sorts of "gut feeling" reasons (both justified and unjustified!) and then argue back to justify them rather than vv!
If ALL the ICOMOS criticisms are justified then there must be enormous questions about the competence of those UK academics and organisations who put together such a disastrous nomination. And again I would suggest that the UNESCO/ICOMOS process which allows a nomination produced by competent persons to progress "so far" and yet be "so wrong" is too opaque and subjective!