On our doorstep! The Wonders of World Heritage

The new exhibition “The Wonders of World Heritage” opened at Durlston last week and I hot footed it over there, with my husband and the kids, this weekend to check it out. The exhibition has been put together by my colleagues in the Jurassic Coast Team, most notably by the ever-inspirational Sam Scriven, and it was funded by The Jurassic Coast Trust – the charity of which I am Vice-Chair and Trustee, and which funds and inspires understanding and conservation of the World Heritage Site. So the trip was a little bit “work”…but really it was all about pleasure. Because a sunny winter Sunday at Durlston is a gorgeous thing indeed!

pic 1The exhibition puts the Jurassic Coast within its wider context of the global community of World Heritage Sites and explains why our 95 miles of coastline has earned its place among this hall of fame. Indeed, once you understand the incredible story of our rocks, our cliffs, beaches and fossils with the unique insight they give science on the very fabric of our planet, it doesn’t seem so incongruous that we’re on the World Heritage list. There is so much more to the Jurassic Coast than “just” our landscape of seaside towns and blustery walks, pebbly beaches and wildlife-rich cliffs – even though these features are the reason so many people love it here.

pic 3But back to the exhibition. A couple of my favourite fellow Jurassic Coast-o-Philes contributed to the interactive elements. The first, and by far the most popular with my children (because it makes a NOISE) was this wire buzzer game… demonstrating just how tricky it is to jump through the hoops to become a World Heritage Site. Infuriating and fun…

It was made by the brilliant Forkbeard Fantasy team, and the wonderful Tim Britton –  who is also the brains (and all important hand) behind our new book “A Mighty Tale” which I found nestling seductively on the shelves of the gift shop at Durlston (but you can buy it from our website folks).

pic 5The other element of the exhibition which the kids loved was these wonderful blocks which enable you to figure out just how the different layers of our coastline were laid down and then how they tilted, eroded, generally jiggled about a bit, and ended up in this marvellous, world-heritage-worthy, 95-mile “walk through time”.

Known fondly by us Jurassic Coasters as “Mike’s blocks” they were originally designed, and hewn, by our brilliant Jurassic Coast Ambassador in East Devon, Mike Green. Mike is another hugely inspiring person, and the motivation behind our burgeoning Jurassic Coast Community project.

pic 8The other, very important, element of the exhibition that I was delighted to see was… The collection box for the Jurassic Coast Trust!

Ok, this looks a bit dull, but if you go and visit, please put a a few quid in, because without it the Trust can’t support all these wonderful activities that go on along our World Heritage Site. I am confident by the end of the exhibition the visitors will have given generously! You can also, of course, exchange a £1 coin for one of our lovely fundraising ammonite badges…

pic 9When you’re done with the exhibition – having tested your knowledge of World Heritage Sites around the world and  marked on a map of the UK all the World Heritage Sites you’ve visited – there is the rest of Durlston to roam in and explore. We combined a wicked combination of hot chocolate and cake from the cafe with cycling, scooting, running, jumping, falling over, climbing trees and big “wows” at the stunning views. World Heritage is indeed wonderful, and never more so than when it is in your own backyard…

pic 12The Wonders of World Heritage exhibition runs in the Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle until 5th February 2015.

Alexandra O’Dwyer

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