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Experts plan World Heritage bid

2 April 08 10:51 GMT

A meeting of minds is to be held in County Durham as the race to become a World Heritage Site heats up.

The twin Anglo-Saxon monasteries of Wearmouth-Jarrow, classed as one site, are the UK's 2009 nomination.

Both were home to the Venerable Bede in the 7th and 8th Centuries and are one of the most influential cultural institutions in the western world.

UK-wide heritage experts will hold a meeting at the Jarrow site on Wednesday to plan a winning strategy.

The government nomination may see the site become the North East's third UNESCO World Heritage Site by 2010.

The community of Wearmouth-Jarrow, described by Bede as "one monastery in two places", was the creation of 7th Century Northumberland nobleman Benedict Biscop.

The churches of St Peter, Monkwearmouth, in Sunderland, and St Paul, Jarrow, in South Tyneside, still contain parts of Benedict Biscop's original buildings, and would form the centre of the proposed Heritage Site.

The Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, said: "The worldwide value of the twin monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow cannot be underestimated.

"In its day it formed one of the most influential institutions in the western world.

"The site is also home to the largest collection of rare 7th Century window glass in Europe and some of the best surviving 7th Century building fabric in the world."

The world heritage list run by Unesco, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the globe.

The UK is allowed to nominate one site each year to the committee.

Other World Heritage Sites include Durham Castle and Cathedral, Stonehenge, the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Sydney Opera House.

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