Ruth Mitchell

World Heritage nomination for Bede's home

The twin Anglo-Saxon monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow is to be the UK’s nomination for World Heritage Site status in 2009.

Wearmouth-Jarrow, a centre of European culture and home of the Venerable Bede in the 7th and 8th centuries, was one of the most influential learning and cultural institutions in the western world.

The nomination has major implications for North East England’s economy, international profile and potential for world-wide cultural, tourism and educational links. The bid has had wide regional support, including active support from MPs. The announcement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport means Wearmouth-Jarrow could become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

Benedict Biscop established the first part of the monastery on the north bank of the River Wear around AD 674. The second was begun at Jarrow, on the south of the Tyne, around AD 681. Wearmouth-Jarrow was architecturally innovative – Benedict Biscop brought stonemasons and glaziers from continental Europe to build in a way hardly seen in England since Roman days. The 7th-century fabric in both churches is the best surviving to be found north of the Alps. The site’s nomination marks the 1320th anniversary of Benedict Biscop’s death.

Cllr Paul Waggott the Leader of South Tyneside Council said: “This is fantastic news not only for Jarrow and Wearmouth - but for North East as a whole. St Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow was home to medieval Europe’s greatest scholar, the Venerable Bede who the lived and worked here 1300 years ago. It is universally acknowledged as the cradle of Christianity and fully deserves worldwide recognition.

“Bede left us a unique legacy and securing this status will open up this chapter of history to an international audience, the benefits of which will be tremendous. It will bring a significant boost in tourism, potentially worth millions of pounds to the local economy and create and secure many jobs. This offers another real opportunity for us to raise the Borough’s profile as a great place in which to live, work and visit.”

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