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Forth, firth, sixth ...

THE Forth Bridge is rightly revered as an engineering marvel and is a symbol of Caledonia for Scots across the world.

Soon it could share the exalted status of the Antonine Wall, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh and St Kilda as Scotland's sixth World Heritage site. Unesco will examine the nomination, put forward yesterday by UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller, and will make a final decision next year.

The Forth Bridge, which opened on March 4, 1890, was forged in steel, but its construction involved the heavy expenditure of blood, sweat and tears - 4500 workers, 98 of whom perished, laboured on the seven-year project.

Even today, the figures make for impressive reading. It is 1.6 miles in length, and the double rail track is elevated 151ft above the chill waters of the Forth Estuary. Each main span comprises two 680ft cantilever arms supporting a central 350ft span truss.

But facts and figures, are just that - cold, hard facts. The sight of the Forth Bridge, whether glimpsed from above from an aeroplane, or from a distance on a ship, stirs the blood. It deserves recognition for that fact alone.

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