Seven sites have been backed by the Government to receive Unesco World Heritage status.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has added five new sites from across the UK and overseas territories to its tentative list of cultural and natural heritage sites that have the best chance of being given the prestigious status.
Among the sites are York city centre, Birkenhead Park in Merseyside and an Iron Age settlement in Shetland, Scotland.
If successful, the sites will be given Unesco’s World Heritage status, alongside 33 locations in the UK which already have it, including Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall.
York has been put forward due to its rich Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman history – plus civic and religious buildings including its Minster.
Birkenhead Park, in Merseyside, which opened in 1847, was a pioneering project to bring greenery to urban environments.
The park has provided a blueprint for municipal planning that has influenced town and city parks across the world, including New York City’s Central Park.
The Zenith of Iron Age Shetland, a collection of three ancient settlements dating back thousands of years, has also been placed onto the tentative list.
Also recommended for consideration by the DCMS is the the East Atlantic Flyway, a migratory bird route over western parts of Europe including Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Kent.
It has been added to the list in recognition of its vital importance to bird populations and wildlife as an area that sees huge transient bird populations pass through every year.
The Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas, located in UK overseas territory of the Cayman Islands, have also been selected for their importance to marine biodiversity and their natural beauty.
The five sites join The Flow Country in Caithness and northern Sutherland, in Scotland, which feature peatbogs lochs and hills – plus three Moravian Church Settlements in Gracehill, Northern Ireland
The two sites submitted their full nominations to Unesco earlier this year.
Heritage minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, said: “Today we are confirming our support for some of the most enchanting heritage sites and breathtaking landscapes in the UK and its overseas territories as they bid for Unesco World Heritage Site status.
“All the locations being put forward would be worthy recipients of this accolade – and we will give them our full backing so they can benefit from the international recognition it can bring.”
Laura Davies, HM Ambassador to Unesco, said: “It is great that the UK is contributing to making World Heritage more representative.
“These five sites brilliantly reflect the diversity and beauty of the UK and its overseas territories’ natural and cultural heritage, and I look forward to working with them towards World Heritage listing.”
The DCMS says it will now work with local authorities and devolved administrations to develop their bids.
Other global landmarks which already have Unesco status include the Taj Mahal in India and The Great Wall of China.
Unesco status can be a matter of some controversy – with Liverpool’s historic mercantile docklands stripped of its World Heritage status in 2021 over developments, including Everton FC’s new £500m football stadium.
- Birkenhead – the People’s Park
- East Atlantic Flyway – England East Coast Wetlands
- The Flow Country
- Gracehill Moravian Church Settlements
- Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas
- The Zenith of Iron Age Shetland
Full list of current Unesco World Heritage Sites in the UK
- Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
- Blenheim Palace
- Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church
- Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
- City of Bath
- Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape
- Derwent Valley Mills
- Durham Castle and Cathedral
- Frontiers of the Roman Empire, including Hadrian’s Wall
- Gorham’s Cave Complex
- Heart of Neolithic Orkney
- Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda
- Ironbridge Gorge
- Jodrell Bank Observatory
- Maritime Greenwich
- New Lanark
- Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
- Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
- Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
- Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey
- The English Lake District
- The Forth Bridge
- The Great Spa Towns of Europe
- The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales
- Tower of London
- Dorset and East Devon Coast
- Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast
- Gough and Inaccessible Islands
- Henderson Island
- Mixed Cultural/Natural
Additional reporting by Press Association