Gorham’s Cave becomes Gibraltar’s first UNESCO World Heritage site

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Gibraltar Museum
Gorham’s Cave from the Sea

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, ironically holding their 40th meeting in Istanbul has admitted Gorham’s Cave (named after Captain Gorham who discovered it in 1907) together with its surrounding caves and cliffs onto the World Heritage List.

This is Gibraltar’s first site to be inscribed on the prestigious United Kingdom list which now now numbers 30 sites including Stonehenge and the Tower of London,

The acceptance speech by the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC, MP, was read out to the World Heritage Committee immediately after it had taken the decision to inscribe. In his speech the Chief Minister recalled how the Rock of Gibraltar had been one of the universal markers of the known world in ancient times, mariners stopping and paying tribute to the gods precisely in Gorham’s Cave.

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He spoke of how the Neanderthals, chief protagonists in the caves, had drawn the short straw when it came to being recognised as a part of humanity. “This is the forgotten dimension of humanity’s universality and it is a humbling privilege to be participating actively in redressing the situation”, added Mr. Picardo.

Mr. Picardo went on to add that “Many people, from diverse cultural and political backgrounds have lived in Gibraltar. Today, I am the democratically-elected leader of the Gibraltarians, a cosmopolitan, warm and friendly people. The Gorham’s Cave project reflects this openness. It has involved, and continues to involve, researchers from many different countries and disciplines; it has been an exemplar of how people can come together, leaving politics aside, and work towards a common goal to the benefit of humanity”.

Reacting to the news Deputy Chief Minister, Joseph Garcia, who has been spearheading the bid on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar said: “I am delighted that Gorham’s Cave and the surrounding area has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site. I want to congratulate all those who have worked hard over so many years in order to make this bid a success, particularly Professor Clive Finlayson and Dr Geraldine Finlayson and their team. This degree of international recognition is a tribute to their hard work and the outstanding universal value of the site. It is something that all in Gibraltar can be proud of.” 

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