Prof David J Breeze, Chairman of the International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies
In September 2002, exactly a year before the launch of CWA, a discussion was held about the creation of a research strategy for the frontiers of the Roman Empire. Several countries wished to nominate their frontiers as World Heritage Sites. Rather than have a series of separate sites, we wanted to persuade UNESCO to agree to a single international site.
Funding was required to begin the research to underpin the nominations, and the obvious source of finance was the EU. We were awarded €1.3m, a three-year project was set up, supported by Austria, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK. As a result, detailed research has been undertaken on Roman frontiers across Europe, websites have been established, and exhibition material created. In 2005, a multi-language book on Roman frontiers was published in English, French, German, and Arabic, followed by seven more, each relating to a different section of the frontier in Europe. As this celebratory issue of CWA goes to press, we launch our first book on North Africa, with, we hope, more to follow on Egypt and the Middle East – if the necessary finance can be raised. We also produced a DVD on Roman frontiers, available in a variety of languages: over 70,000 were distributed.
Most significantly, we have set up a new type of World Heritage Site, and one that will grow incrementally. To date, Hadrian’s Wall (1987) has been joined by the German frontier (2005) and the Antonine Wall in Scotland (2008). Proposals are well advanced for others to be submitted, creating the first truly international World Heritage Site,
a notable achievement. We still have some way to go to create the conditions for truly open international cooperation, but we are steadily moving there.