Two heritage scientists examining concreted objects.

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Two conservators examining a thimble chest recovered from the Rooswijk shipwreck. © Historic England, James O Davies, Image reference DP220689

Introduction Issue 12

Jen Heathcote, Historic England's Head of Investigative Science introduces a special issue focusing on how heritage science is applied to our projects and the benefits this brings.

In this issue we show how science is used to provide insight into historic people and places, both terrestrial and marine.

In ‘Discovery is only the beginning’, investigation of the remains of a protected, submerged wreck – the Rooswijk - exemplifies multi-disciplinary working and international collaboration. Here, archaeological conservators, material scientists, and specialists in environmental studies and dating, have worked closely to build a detailed picture of the goods and people carried by the vessel on its final voyage.

Moving from seabed to coastal waters, ‘Waves over woodlands’ examines the evidence for past environments that can be found in the inter-tidal zone; the rich interface between land and sea that yields abundant evidence for how landscapes change through time.

On land, we see how ‘Geophysical Survey at Bayham Old Abbey’ has been used to reveal hidden remains and provide for potential new interpretive materials for visitors to understand and visualise the medieval space.

Two articles focus on improving conservation methods for historic buildings. The ‘Control of biological growth on masonry’ explains research trialling different methods for controlling the growth of micro-organisms (e.g. algae) and plants (e.g. lichen) on stone and brickwork to find solutions that are both effective and minimise damage to the historic fabric and environment.

In ‘Lead Roofs and Statuary’, we see the results of a 20-year experiment to understand and manage lead corrosion; the findings will be synthesised in guidance published later this year. Our ability to run long-term trials beyond the typical 3-year project duration is one of the great public benefits delivered by Historic England.

The final pair of articles relate to adapting historic places for modern use. In ‘Simulation Models and Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings’ the author explores approaches to modelling energy and thermal performance and hygrothermal (heat and moisture) behaviour in traditional buildings, and considers how accuracy of those models might be improved.

The issue concludes with news of updated guidance on ‘Piling and Archaeology’, produced in collaboration with construction engineers and archaeologists, and representing over a decade of research into best practice advice.

Jen Heathcote

Jen Heatchcote PhD

Head of Investigative Science, Historic England

Jen currently leads a team of heritage scientists at Historic England. She started out as a geoarchaeologist, later developing wide-ranging experience in applied scientific and strategic research. Jen’s research interests include environmental risks to the historic environment and landscape change, particularly wetlands.

Download Issue 12

Historic England Research Issue 12

Published 29 May 2019

Science Special issue of Research magazine showing how science is used to provide insight into historic people and places, both terrestrial and marine

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