To mark the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 this exhibition focuses on the historical zone that spans Europe and 1,900 years of history. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, it recognises the significance of how an era of profound civilisation shaped the Europe we know today. As a frontier aligning all in its path – places, people – it brought order and established a symbolic definition of the reach of civilisation, but as a contemporary zone crossing the continent and beyond, it now connects communities in a way unlike any other. Therefore, it uniquely embodies all that 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage represents in shaping a common European heritage, and about the common values expressed through contemporary European culture. It is cultural heritage at the leading edge: “what joins us is greater than what divides us”.
The exhibition illustrates the historical overlay of the Frontier onto contemporary Europe, like the imprint of memory on the visible world. It begins in the west, the edge of Empire and the edge of Europe, manifest by a fort overlooking the sea and a port – a supply chain for provisions and resources to an outpost established by a Spanish cohort and later garrisoned by soldiers from across the empire. The exhibition features quotes on what this means to local people and beyond, as well as a first glimpse of the vision of NECT’s future plans for the site. Moving along the exhibition are vignettes providing glimpses into the life of communities today along the edge of Empire as far as Bulgaria (which in 2018 is hosting the Presidency of the Council of the European Union), about the influence of the past on their present, and opportunities of how for each of them, “what joins us is greater than what divides us”.
The exhibition concludes with two panels that summarise the message of 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage: one panel will lift the veil of history to consider the legacy of the Roman Frontier on contemporary European society, also using the short blog format vignettes from professionals, students, schoolchildren and communities.
The final panel will illustrate the diversity of activities across the UK, continuing the vignettes format, that link people, place and insight. It will express the hope and challenge to extend the aims of 2018 in the UK into uniting the usually independent cultural and heritage sectors into one synchronised voice within our own society in a period of unprecedented transition, and in the chorus of Europe.
Organised by the North of England Civic Trust (NECT), UK Co-ordinator the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.