The Role of Science in Building Conservation

Heritage Science Research Network

By Craig Kennedy, School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh

Following several years undertaking analysis of a variety of historic materials, in 2006 I entered the field of built heritage conservation as a scientist working with Historic Scotland. There, I was fortunate to share an office and lab space with the applied conservation team who spent their time working on properties in state care, or on individual objects that were brought in to the conservation centre for remedial work.

Importantly, I got a real sense that there was a specific set of rules that the built heritage community worked to, and it defined many of the decisions that they took when approaching a new piece of work. These rules were not difficult to track down. Building conservation philosophy is extremely well documented, including international charters form bodies such as ICOMOS, the SPAB Manifesto and various books…

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