Criterion IV: an Outstanding Example of Architecture
Skellig Michael also acts as testaments of human ingenuity in the face adversity through its buildings, pathways, stairs, and other structures around the island. These structures allow Skellig Michael to fulfill criterion IV. Criterion IV applies to sites which are ‘an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history’ (UNESCO & ICPWCNH, 2013). According to World Heritage Ireland, Skellig Michael is ‘one of the most daring architectural expressions of early Irish monasticism’ (2013) particularly because of the hermitage built on a ...view middle of the document...
These huts have round exteriors and rectangular interiors. The placement of stones in the construction is so precise, that no water enters the huts at all – at least not through the roof or walls – and instead runs off the sides. The fact that huts are still standing, almost, if not entirely, still intact is also testament to their superb construction.
The most daring architectural feat, however, is the hermitage. Made of dry-stone construction like the rest of the monastery, the hermitage rests on a narrow man-made terrace, which was created like the others with retaining walls. The hermitage consists mainly of an oratory with an altar and bench, but it also had basins that collected rainwater off the cliff face.
Although individually the structures on Skellig Michael might not seem unique, impressive, or exceptional, the combination of all the different feats of engineering that allowed a monastic settlement to thrive for nearly five hundred years there is astounding. In addition, the combination provides a unique view of early Christian monastic/ascetic tradition and is a lasting testament to that stage of human history. Because of that, this outstanding collection of buildings, walls, and hand-carved pathways fits criterion IV wonderfully.
Maintenance of OUV at Skellig Michael
As a World Heritage Site, the State Party (the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government) is supposed to ensure the continued protection and preservation of the site through both legislation and conservation. Skellig Michael should have some of the best protection of a national monument or World Heritage site in Ireland, because it is owned entirely by the State Party. This allows for easier management, because there are no outside committees to consult, with the exception of the Office of Public works, which is responsible for the management of the archaeological site (DoEHLG & OPW, 2008, 22). Currently, the State Body is protecting Skellig Michael through a management plan, which considers national and international legislation and a series conservation works. Although, the State Body is attempting to maintain the Outstanding Universal Value of the site, the World Heritage Committee does not entirely agree with the current implementation of the management plan.
The Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government (DoEHLG), in conjunction with the Office of Public Works (OPW), published the most current management plan in 2008. The plan is supposed to last until 2018, however, the process of creating a management plan takes so long, that the State Body should consider starting to draft the plan that will begin in 2019. This new plan can consider the recovering economy, because the current plan was written just as the economy collapsed.
In the 2008-2018 plan, the DoEHLG and OPW say that the intent of the management plan is ‘to achieve a balance between conservation of the built and natural heritage,
visitor management and increased...