Spanning lands that cross the modern borders of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana, the Loropeni ruins are part of the larger Lobi Ruins, a 120-mile-by-60-mile cultural landscape, created between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. This area served as a refuge for various ethnic groups migrating from the south, and became a center for gold mining and an important commercial trade route for goods as well as slaves. The Loropeni ruins consist of a massive (2.5 acres) quadrangular-shaped stone and earthen rampart complex, including walls that reach 20 feet high and almost four feet wide in places. Today the ruins are surrounded by a 670-acre buffer zone that limits uncontrolled farming and bush fires to ensure their preservation and to protect associated sites, such as quarrying pits. Approximately 80% of the original rampart and partition walls still remain; however, the ruins have suffered from structural weaknesses and have lost some exterior stone layers in places, particularly in walls exposed to tropical rains and rough winds. Rodent activity has weakened the foundations in some places, and vegetation pushed up against the walls, affecting their stability. The majority of stone cover on the lower courses of walls has disappeared, most likely due to frequent bush fires during the dry season and rising damp during the rainy season.
How We Helped
The Loropeni ruins were placed on the 2008 Watch and, following listing, a conservation plan was developed. In addition to addressing the urgent structural repairs of the ruins, the focus of the project is to develop a management system to eliminate the risks of continuing damage, preserve the historic value of the site, and encourage economic development in and around Loropeni. Craftspeople from neighboring villages have participated in the planning and conservation work and local cultural agencies have developed plans for site interpretation and maintenance.
Why It Matters
The Loropeni ruins are the best-preserved remains of the larger Lobi Ruins. Due to their local spiritual importance, the community has maintained the site over time. Although the site is respected by the community for its cultural values, severe environmental conditions, including increasing rainfall variability and extreme temperature cycles, have adversely affected the site. This is seen as a problem for sites in many African countries and implementation of an effective management plan could act as an example for projects at other sites in the region.