Why OUVs are special

An OUV is an Outstanding Universal Value, and Bath has got six of them within its two UNESCO World Heritage Site listings. Six lectures at BRLSI about these inscribed attributes provide information and insight in equal measure.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places of cultural or natural significance which are considered to be of importance to all of the global community. We conserve them for this and future generations. The City of Bath is exceptional in having two UNESCO inscriptions. In 1987 it was inscribed for its hot springs, Roman archaeology, Georgian buildings and natural landscape setting. Bath’s listing that year was made in the same WHS award group as The Acropolis in Athens and the Great Wall of China. In 2021 a second inscription was received as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe – fashionable spa towns laid out around natural springs which are used for health and wellbeing.

This series of lectures at BRLSI, running from 22 March until 3 May, will explore Bath’s six attributes of Outstanding Universal Value. The City of Bath is one of only two entire cities inscribed as World Heritage Sites, the other being Venice, which was also inscribed in 1987. And with the 2021 UNESCO Inscription Bath became one of only 22 double-inscribed World Heritage Sites (of the 1152 sites worldwide).

Professor Barry Gilbertson, Chair of The City of Bath UNESCO World Heritage Site and Chair of the Bath World Heritage Enhancement Fund will chair each lecture and give his own perspective on a brief history of World Heritage and its importance to Bath’s economy. Barry was formerly a Trustee of the Bath Preservation Trust, and for six years an independent Trustee Governor of the University of Bath, as a member of the University’s Council.

The six attributes of OUV featured in the upcoming lectures are Roman archaeology, hot springs, Georgian town planning, Georgian architecture, 18th-century social ambition and the green countryside setting of our world heritage site. Each lecture will feature a different individual expert speaker focused on one attribute each week, describing the attribute in fascinating historical, archaeological, architectural, landscape or social detail. Each speaker will also touch on the relative importance that each attribute provides to Bath’s economy.

The six BRLSI World Heritage lectures will take place in the Elwin Room at BRLSI, 16–18 Queen Square, Bath on the dates shown below, 7pm–9pm, in person or online, £4–£7; brlsi.org

Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole. The Committee defines the criteria for the inscription of properties on the World Heritage List.” UNESCO definition of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)