The Statement of Significance is a written text that identifies the significant elements or characteristics of a heritage site which are worthy of being safeguarded and protected. While for a World Heritage Site the Statement of Significance will repeat many of the points in the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, which is the official document submitted to UNESCO outlining the site’s heritage value to all humanity, there are some differences between the two statements. The Statement of Significance also outlines the attributes that imbue a site with Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), it is not however, limited to only describing the attributes that give a site OUV.
The Statement of Significance has the freedom to discuss all the attributes of a site which contribute to its significance as a heritage site, including those attributes which may not necessarily contribute to OUV. The bodies which manage heritage sites are encouraged to develop Statements of Significance for their sites, whether or not these sites are, or even have the potential to be World Heritage Sites. The Statement of Significance may be updated or amended from time to time. In the case of World Heritage Sites, the Statement of Significance may include new information which has come to light (through archival, archaeological and other research) since the submission of the site’s Statement of OUV.
The Brimstone Hill Fortress in St. Kitts was constructed intermittently from 1690 and entered into a more intense phase of construction after 1782. It is one of the earliest surviving and the best preserved example of eighteenth century polygonal fortification anywhere in the world. According to the U.S. National Park Service, the polygonal design of Brimstone Hill’s Fort George Citadel is the possible prototype for all polygonal fortifications subsequently built by the British in North America.
Brimstone Hill Fortress is the most extensive historic British military fortification in the Western Hemisphere, and the second largest citadel fortress in the Caribbean after Citadelle la Ferriere in Haiti (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The scale of its construction and the innovation of its design are testament to the ingenuity of the British military engineers who conceived and designed it, and to the skill and sacrifice of the African stonemasons and labourers who erected this product of seventeenth and eighteenth century conflict and trade atop a 750 foot high steep sided limestone peak.
Recent archaeological excavations have uncovered that this site provides a window not only into military and architectural history but also into social relations between English military personnel and Africans (both enslaved and free). Brimstone Hill was not only a British garrison but also a complex pre-emancipation community. This community was comprised of European and African soldiers, along with a civilian population made up of both races, both sexes, and children.
Cameron St. Pierre Gill, MA
Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society
28th March 2011
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