- MA, PhD, CChem, FRSC, FSA, FIIC
- Emeritus Professor of Archaeological Conservation
My research interests are focused around the conservation of historic buildings, ancient monuments and archaeological sites. I have a particular interest in the mechanism and prevention of salt damage in porous materials such as stone, plaster and mud-brick.
I was the coordinator of a European Commission project which modelled the thermodynamic properties of aqueous salt solutions. The end-product was a computer program capable of predicting the environmental conditions needed to minimise salt damage in buildings or artefacts, given the ionic composition of the contaminating salts. However, the model necessarily assumed equilibrium conditions, which may not always be realistic in practice. On-going research is therefore concerned with the kinetics of salt damage, and with the possibility of limiting salt damage by the use of crystal growth inhibitors.
Other research interests, stimulated in part by the activities of research students, have included the design of shelters for archaeological sites; the weathering and conservation of gypsum from Minoan Crete; the use of photo-inhibitors for historic dyed silks; an economic analysis of the public's willingness to pay for museums in Taiwan; and low-tech solutions to environmental control in tropical museums.
The EC project on salt damage was conducted in collaboration with Dr Simon Clegg and Prof Peter Brimblecombe at the School of Environmental Studies, University of East Anglia, and Dr Michael Steiger at the University of Hamburg. A subsequent project, ‘Saltcontrol’, was coordinated by Prof Patrik Jacobs at the University of Ghent. The purpose of the project was to evaluate the potential of crystal growth inhibitors.
I have undertaken a number of consultancies relating to stone conservation, including a visit to Egypt in 1997 to advice on preventive conservation at the Osireion, Abydos, Egypt; to Jordan in 2000 to advise on research relating to stone conservation at Petra; to Puerto Rico in 2003 to advise on the conservation of petroglyphs at Caguana; and to Niuheliang, Liaoning Province, PR Chine, in 2005 to advise on site conservation. In 2008 I taught at the Luxor Conservation Field School, run by the American Research Center in Egypt.
I chair the Fabric Council at Lincoln Cathedral, and I am a member of a committee at Westminster Abbey that is concerned with conservation of the Abbey’s Cosmati pavement.
Educational Background and Previous Experience
My original training was in chemistry: I studied Natural Sciences at St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, and I stayed on to do a PhD in the reactivity of free carbon atoms. My first job was at the Building Research Establishment, where I worked on the conservation of historic buildings and ancient monuments. My particular interest was in stone conservation, and I was responsible for the development of the commercial stone preservative, Brethane (patented in the UK and abroad). In 1983 I was appointed Head of the Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage, and in 1990 I moved to the Institute of Archaeology.