UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering



Parnassus is an interdisciplinary research project investigating the effects of climate change, particularly flooding and wind-driven rain, on cultural heritage, and the protective adaptation needed


Parnassus - Protecting cultural heritage from flood and driven rain.

Please note, certain links on this page direct to external sites. 

Parnassus is implemented under 'The Science and Heritage Programme', and funded by the AHRC (Arts & Humanities Research Council) and EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). The Academic Project Partners involved in the project are:

  • University College London, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering 
  • University of Bristol, Department of Civil Engineering 
  • University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 
  • University of Southampton, School of Humanities 

Key questions for the aims of Parnassus are:

  • What are the main damaging environmental effects on cultural heritage?
  • How can the causes of damage or material change to cultural heritage be better understood?
  • When is material change acceptable and damage unacceptable?
  • What adaptation measures can be taken?


Project Outline 

  • Understand and quantify impacts of flooding and driving rain due to climate change on the structural integrity and material properties of historic buildings and archaeological sites
  • Evaluate resilience and adaptation measures able to counteract and prevent adverse effects
  • Disseminate findings to conservation practitioners via guidance documents and seminars
  • Development of a methodology that can robustly simulate the effect of WDR and flooding from the territorial scale to the individual building
  • Correlation of exposure, building typology and damage effects through the collection of field survey, local base knowledge and historical records
  • Quantification of extreme WDR and flooding scenarios using uncertainty modelling applied to available meteorological data
  • Development of use of laser scanning to provide data visualization, computational fluid dynamics and finite element models for improved interpretation process
  • Definition of damage criteria in masonry due to the effects of freeze-thaw action
  • Introduction of a test standard for weather tightness of structural walls
  • Drawing up specifications for a reliable monitoring system for assessment of effects of weathering actions on decay
  • Characterisation of resilience and adaptation techniques
  • Evaluation of efficiency and effectiveness of specific techniques

Case Studies 

The Parnassus project is case-based and depending on factors such as flooding hazard, diversity of age, materials, construction techniques, significance, and historical documentation of the heritage buildings and archaeological remains, these areas have been chosen as case studies:

Arlington Court and Carriage Museum 

The monitoring studies that started in Arlington Stables in April, 2012 included the measurements of rain water, wind speed and direction, as well as indoors, outdoors and in-wall temperature and relative humidity values. 

The report summarizing the work carried out in the stables block and carriage museum so far can be found here

Blickling Hall

The monitoring studies that started in Blickling Hall in Norfolk, Norwich in August, 2012 included the measurements of rain water, wind speed and direction, as well as indoors, outdoors and in-wall temperature and relative humidity values.

The report summarizing the work carried out so far can be found here

Bodiam Castle 

Bodiam Castle is in consideration for temperature and relative humidity monitoring.

Cottown, Perthshire: cob walls 

Cob Houses are in consideration for temperature and relative humidity monitoring.

Deerhurst: archaeological sites

The buildings investigated in Deerhurst are:

Tewkesbury: scheduled area near the Abbey 

In Tewkesbury area, after site characterization and building typology analysis (street survey) for the site, feedback from site users and detailed building characterization have been performed on the following buildings:

  • Tewkesbury Abbey
  • 64 Barton Street
  • 11 Abbey Terrace
  • 66 Church Street
  • 90 Church Street
  • Abbey Barn
  • Tewkesbury Abbey Mill
  • 1 Mill Bank
  • The Boat House (Old Chandlery)

Deerhurst (see above) is regarded as an extension of the Tewkesbury area.

Winchester Cathedral and Winchester College buildings: scheduled area

In the  Winchester area, after site characterisation and building typology analysis (street survey) for the site, feedback from site users and detailed building characterization have been performed on the following buildings:

  • Winchester Cathedral
  • Winchester College
  • Winchester Abbey Mill
  • Winchester City Mill
  • 16a Colebrooke St
  • 61 Kingsgate
  • 14 Kingsgate
  • 86 Water Lane
York: Barker Tower

Barker Tower is being monitored by using 6 standalone sensors.

The Guildhall is in consideration for investigation.

Work Packages 

In order to achieve the main aims of Parnassus, tasks for the implementation of the project are organised in work packages. The Project Structure illustrates the interaction and the flow of Work Packages. The project Work Plan shows the implementation of work packages within the three years' time frame.

Work Package 1: Management and Work Plan

Parnassus brings together engineering, geography, archaeology and conservation and relies on the collaboration of three academic institutions, four commercial partners, five national institutional partners and  three international organisations.

The PI Prof. Dina D'Ayala, from University College London, is coordinator of the project. Coordination occurs via two tiers of meetings:

  • Academic partners meetings (APM), attended by university staff and relevant commercial partners
  • Steering committee meetings (SCM), open to all partners

Click to download the Parnassus Work Plan Gantt Chart:

Work Package 2: Understanding the sites

Task 2.1 Survey-questionnaire

  • After a preliminary study to define buildings typology and recent and past level of hazard and damage, the initial data is collected through questionnaire-led survey of Local Authority and Building Preservation Trust Officers. Questions cover history, specific pathologies, and interventions.

Task 2.2 Typological and material classification and vulnerability rating

  • Based on Task 2.1 classification of buildings and preliminary correlation between exposure, typologies and damage effects is performed. This will be used to rank the areas in terms of hazard, vulnerability and exposure, informing the choice of which hydraulic models will be developed, and which buildings will be laser-scan surveyed and monitored.

Task 2.3. Historic significance of previous climate change

  • Climate has varied significantly in the historic past becoming colder and wetter in 14th and 15th century England, with effects on changes in building technique and conservation. Houses became more 'permanent', and needed less maintenance. The University of Southampton, School of Humanities will conduct a review of secondary literature on the relationship between buildings and climate change, developing hypotheses regarding the long-term correlation of climate and building technique.

Task 2.4 Flood and driving rain scenarios

  • Frequency-magnitude relationships defining flood and wind-driven rain (WDR) scenarios is developed using extreme event statistical analyses of sea level rising, river flow and meteorological data. Using data available through National Water Archive and British Atmospheric Data Centre (NERC) extreme weather and river flow scenarios with uncertainty will be produced. Probabilistic magnitude of extreme events based on climate projections (UKCIP09) will be derived and this will be output and future impacts modelling.

Task 2.5 Monitoring system design

  • The novel monitoring system is designed as unobtrusive, wireless and with remote logging. It comprises of wind sensors, rain gauges, pressure gauges, temperature and relative humidity sensors, and water level sensors.
Work Package 3: Data acquisition and interpretation 

Task 3.2 Coring at sites

  • At sites selected in Task 2.2, change in conditions through time will be investigated by extraction and analysis of sediment undisturbed cores. This provides:
    • A lithological and stratigraphic model of the catchments surrounding the sites
    • Analysis of particle size, geochemical and loss on ignition
    • A model of landform stability through combined analysis of cores and topographic data

Task 3.3 Testing material changes to extreme weather cycles

  • Test wallettes will be built. Specimens will replicate historic cob, rubble and dressed stonework fabrics, following results of Task 2.2. Environmental chamber is used for freeze-thaw (F-T) cycling at the BLADE laboratory at the University of Bristol. Guidelines for material testing to allow for climate change will be established.

Task 3.4 Impact of wind-driven rain

  • Sets of walls will be built to replicate historic fabrics with and without timber framing and tested at BRE Watford wind-driven rain test facilities. Presentation of results will define specific parameters of damage, leading to the drafting of a new standard test for historic buildings.

Task 3.5 Laser scanning

  • An integrated laser scanning approach will be used employing LiDAR, Leica ScanStation and Konica Minolta 910 to record buildings and sites three-dimensionally, to a maximum resolution of 0.05mm. The approach will enable small but structurally significant shifts in the buildings to be identified. Outputs are:
    • documentation of built remains for conservation purposes
    • data of structural changes: sag, warping and racking
    • documentation of lab samples of T3.3 and T3.4
    • generation of 3D shapes to represent position, shape and volume of buildings in water flow and rain path at different resolution levels for T4.2 and T4.3

For each case study, a computerised model will visualise structural modifications in the past, during the monitoring phase, and future, including impact of adaptations.


Work Package 4: Models development & validation

Task 4.1 Buildings’ Modelling

  • An integrated laser scanning approach will be used employing LiDAR, Leica ScanStation and Konica Minolta 910 to record buildings and sites three-dimensionally, to maximum resolution of 0.05mm.

Task 4.2 Hydraulic Modelling of Floods

  • Flooding at each site is simulated using advanced 1D/2D models of river flow using output from T4.1. This produces estimates of dynamically changing water level and flow velocity at the native resolution of terrain data for various return period extreme events. Models are calibrated and validated against observations of historic floods, then used in prediction.

Task 4.3 Structural Integrity Modelling

  • Effects of scouring, flash flood, wall saturation, ponding, and drainage failure are simulated. This task develops novel realistic modelling based on accurate building geometry, Task 4.1, material data, Task 3.3, structural parameters, Task 3.4, and environmental loading data, Task 4.2, to output damage scenarios caused by driving rain and/or flooding. After validation based on monitoring, results allow:
    • predicting severity of damage according to material type, environmental phenomena and soil-structure interaction
    • establishing material/structure fragility curves for environmental impact factors
    • defining and validating historic significance-based adaptation measures
Work Package 5: Adaptation measures development & validation

Task 5.1 Developing and validating adaptation measures in a physical context

  • Current guidelines for adaptation measures against WDR and flooding are not historic building specific. Alternatives to a waterproof zone made of concrete around the building foundation (tanking) for flooding and specific grouting and repointing mixtures for WDR are investigated. Adaptation measures are validated on structural, significance–reduction, insurance premium and implementation criteria.

Task 5.2 Validating adaptation measures in historic contexts

  • Selected adaptation measures will be visualised on the buildings modelled in T4.1 and validated in their historic context. Data collected in T2.2 and T2.3 will be used to quantify effectiveness of current proposed techniques against documented historic ones.
Work Package 6: Generalisation of results

The “extrema” methodology followed from case studies choice, to materials characterization, to climate change effects’ forecast, will allow generalising results through extrapolation and interpolation of data sets. Materials are selected considering:

  • typical cases (reference type)
  • extreme cases (realistic limits) 
  • marginal cases (deviation)

Due to the approach, findings will be easily generalised to buildings of similar material and construction typologies with different exposures and variation in fabric and construction. Research methodology and tests guidelines will be generally applicable to the conservation sector.

Project Structure

Project structure flow chart of UCL Parnassus project work plan

Work Package 7: Dissemination 

Journal articles 
  1. Aktas, Y.D., D'Ayala, D., Blades, N. & Calnan, C. (2017) An assessment of moisture induced damage in Blickling Hall in Norfolk, England, via environmental monitoringHeritage Science, doi: 10.1186/s40494-017-0119-4
  2. D'Ayala, D. & Aktas, Y.D. (2016) Moisture dynamics in the masonry fabric of historic buildings subjected to wind-driven rain and floodingBuilding and Environment, 104208-220
  3. Aktas, Y. D., D'Ayala, D., Erkal, A., & Stephenson, V. (2015). Environmental performance assessment using monitoring and DVS testingICE Engineering History and Heritage, 168(1), 3-16
  4. Parkin, S. J., Adderley, W. P., Kennedy, C. J., Aktas, Y. D., D'Ayala, D. & Erkal, A. (2015). Climate threats to the earth-built heritage of ScotlandICE Engineering History and Heritage168(1), 17-30
  5. Stephenson, V., & D'Ayala, D. (2014). A new approach to flood vulnerability assessment for historic buildings in EnglandNatural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 14, 1035-1048
  6. Erkal, A., D’Ayala, D. & Stephenson, V. 2013. Evaluation of Environmental Impact on Historic Stone Masonry through On-site Monitoring AppraisalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology 46 (4), 449-458
  7. Erkal, A. & D’Ayala, D. (2014) Laboratory Testing of Non-standard Original Historic Building Materials and Related Implications for Conservation. Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology48, 15-28.
  8. Smith, A.; Bates, P.; Freer, J. & Wetterhall, F. (2013) Investigating the Application of Climate Models in Flood Projection across the U.K.Hydrological Processes, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.9815.
  9. Erkal, A., D’Ayala, D. & Sequeira, L. (2012) Assessment of wind-driven rain impact, related surface erosion and surface strength reduction of historic building materialsBuilding and Environment, 57, 336–348
Conference proceedings 
  1. Stephenson, V., Aktas, Y.D. & D'Ayala, D. (2016) Assessment of flood and wind driven rain impact on mechanical properties of historic brick masonry, International RILEM Conference on Materials, Systems and Structures in Civil Engineering MSSCE 2016, Lyngby, Denmark
  2. D'Ayala, D, Copeland, P., Aktas, Y.D., Earl, G., Erkal, A, Miles, J., Richley, E., Stephenson, V. & Strutt, K. 2013. The Parnassus Project: Archaeology and Engineering Collaboration for 3D Data Collection and Analysis. Proceedings of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) Conference 2013, 25-28 March 2013, Perth, WA
  3. D’Ayala, D. & Erkal, A. "The Role of Environmental Monitoring in Conservation of Cultural Heritage",  WCCE-ECCE-TCCE Joint Conference 2 on “Seismic Protection of Cultural Heritage. 
  1. Stephenson, V. J.(2016). Vulnerability of historic buildings to environmental actions: an empirical methodology (Doctoral dissertation), UCL (University College London)
  2. Zhou, J. (2013) Experimental Study On Water Ingress/Egress Properties And Freeze-Thaw Degradation Of Hartham Park Bath Stone Under Vertical Pre-Compression (MSc dissertation), University of Bristol
Seminars and invited talks
  • Prof Dina D'Ayala spoke at the Resilient York Conference on 4 November 2016. The event was organised by York Civic Trust, York Conservation Alumni Association and the Department of Archaeology at York University and brought together researchers, practitioners and policy-makers to discuss risk of flooding, or more generally global warming, on historic building envelopes.
  • Dr Yasemin D Aktas spoke at the UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities Workshop organised by the Institute for Resilient Infrastructures, University of Leeds on 30 March 2016.
  • Dr Yasemin D Aktas gave a seminar on Protecting Cultural Heritage from Flood and Driven Rain at the International Workshop Future Cities: Science to Action for Building Resilience of Urban Communities to Climate Induced Physical Hazards on 24 June 2015.
  • Dr Yasemin D Aktas spoke at the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction Building Resilience Forum in November 2013.
  • Prof. Dina D'Ayala gave a seminar on Effect of Climate Change on our Structural Heritage on 15 February 2011 at the Countess of Huntington's Chapel, The Vineyards, Bath, BA1 5NA. The seminar was organised by ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) and the first seminar for the presentation of the project PARNASSUS.

Project Partners 

The Parnassus project relies on the collaboration of the following:

Research academic partners 

Academic Project Partners involved in the project are:

  1. University College London, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

  2. University of Bristol, Department of Civil Engineering 

  3. University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 
  4. University of Southampton, School of Humanities 

University College London, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

The UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) engages in research where integration between the disciplines is likely to be most valuable. All academic staff work within one of the Department's research centres:

  • Accessibility Research Group (ARG)
  • Advanced & Innovative Materials (AIM)
  • Centre for Resource Efficiency & the Environment (CREE)
  • Centre for Transport Studies (CTS)
  • CRUCIBLE Centre for Health & Wellbeing
  • EPICentre
  • ExCiteS
  • Healthy Infrastructure Research Centre (HIRC)
  • Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory (PAMELA)
  • Photogrammetry, 3D Imaging and Metrology
  • Quantitative & Applied Spatial Economic Research Laboratory (QASER)
  • Satellite Geodesy and Navigation Group (SGNL)
  • Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience (USAR)

In Parnassus Project, the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering is responsible for project management, on-site and lab testing to define damage thresholds, probabilistic modelling of impact of flood and wind-driven rain and derivation of fragility curves, and developing and validating adaptation measures in structural context.

University of Bristol, Department of Civil Engineering 

Civil Engineering is one of six departments in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol, and is one of the top civil engineering departments in the country, with a research activity rating of 5*, denoting “research of international and national excellence”. The Department consistently appears at or near the top of national surveys and league tables, and focuses on first-class undergraduate teaching and top quality research.

For Parnassus Project, Bristol's Department of Civil Engineering is responsible for material characterization, effect of freeze-thaw on residual strength of masonry composites, definition of water penetration mechanism and correlation to damage criteria, to be conducted in BLADE – Bristol Lab for Advanced Dynamics Engineering.

BLADE was realised through an £18 million JIF investment within Bristol University’s Faculty of Engineering. Opened in 2004, the lab is equipped with state-of-the-art servo-hydraulic actuators in the range 8 tonnes to 600 tonnes capacity for static through to high-frequency loads, high-speed logging of large banks of data and high volume environmental chambers for humidity and thermal testing of materials in the range -150°C to +150°C. These facilities are eminently suited to the presently proposed work on freeze-thaw cycling with simultaneous vertical compressive load application of large-scale specimens of historic building materials. In-house laboratory technical staff regularly attend training courses to enable safe and efficient use of the increasing inventory of advanced testing equipment. In the 2008 research assessment exercise, 25% of the research in the Department of Civil Engineering was rated as world leading and 55% as internationally excellent, rendering this the third most successful Department at Bristol University.

University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 

The School of Geographical Sciences is currently a 6* Department having been continuously top ranked by the UK funding council HEFCE’s Research Assessment Exercise. The School's research is focused on a number of themes which take due cognisance of UK Research Council priority areas, industrial and other stakeholder interests. The research interests of the Hydrology Group focus on the modelling of hydrologic and hydraulic problems using advanced numerical methods. They particularly specialize in modelling river flooding, slope geotechnics and subsurface hydrology and predominately use software developed in-house. The Bristol Research Initiative for the Dynamic Global Environment (BRIDGE) group aims to improve the understanding of natural climate and environmental variability and to use this knowledge to predict future changes more accurately and assess its impact on all aspects of human society.

In relation to Parnassus, the School of Geographical Sciences is responsible for flood and driving rain probability analysis and scenarios, hydraulic modelling to convert extreme flow values into water depths, and velocities around buildings.

University of Southampton, School of Humanities 

Southampton is one of the leading centres in Europe for the study of archaeology, with world class research and teaching ranging from human origins to the modern world, and with field projects across the globe. All academics are experts in their fields and their interests can be grouped within four themes, although these themes are interdependent and fostered by a collaborative atmosphere. The themes are: 

  • Classical and historical archaeology 
  • Maritime archaeology
  • Social prehistory (including human origins and later prehistory)
  • Theory, representation and cultural politics

The Faculty of Humanities has a thriving environment for historic buildings work, including the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture which has buildings history and archaeology as one of its core interests. The Faculty is also home to the Archaeological Computing Research Group, which has excellent laboratory facilities and is well-equipped for Parnassus project research, including laser scanning and digital photogrammetric facilities, power and hand augers, and software plus hardware for producing and processing complex three dimensional datasets.

Southampton has been consistently awarded a grade 5 (excellent) in the Government's Research Assessment Exercise since 1992. For the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Archaeology at Southampton achieved a national ranking of 5th, one of thirteen disciplines in the University to gain an overall top ten place. It was awarded a maximum 24/24 in 2002 for the quality of the student experience by the Quality Assurance Agency. In 2012, it came top of all Archaeology departments in the country in the National Student Survey.

The archaeologists from the University of Southampton are responsible for understanding historical and archaeological significance of the Parnassus sites with reference to previous climate change, laser scanning and modelling significant buildings at sites, coring at archaeological sites, and validating adaptation measures in historic context. They have ongoing field projects at Bodiam and in Winchester that are producing directly relevant data.

Commercial partners

Commercial Partners involved in the project are:

  1. Eatec Engineering Analysis
  2. Ecclesiastical Insurance
  3. Gifford and Partners, Engineering
  4. ARC Architects

Eatec Engineering Analysis

Eatec is an independent UK company which specializes in the provision of analysis, assessment and testing services to clients who are engaged in the development of new products, resolution of engineering problems, or undertaking research. Eatec Ltd will provide specialist consultancy support for the Parnassus project as Eatec is becoming more involved in the monitoring of historic and sensitive structures. Their input is in the area of measurements of the environmental parameters affecting the integrity of buildings, including and involving:

  • the selection of sensors, including any special purpose transducers to be constructed for the project
  • the data acquisition system and its controlling computer
  • techniques for remote monitoring of the recorded data
  • signal processing to extract relevant information from the measured signals 

Ecclesiastical Insurance

Ecclesiastical Insurance is a specialist insurance and financial services company offering honest advice, deep expertise and caring protection. The company specialises in charity insurance, education insurance, heritage insurance, care insurance, faith insurance, wedding insurance and Anglican church insurance alongside a range of other insurance and financial services products.

In relation to the Parnassus project, Ecclesiastical Insurance will provide data relevant to valuation and insurance premiums as relating to damage/repair following major damaging events in heritage buildings to be used for cost/benefit analysis and validation of alternative adaptation measures.

Gifford and Partners, Engineering

With almost 60 years of proactive consulting in over 30 different countries, Gifford has extensive experience in understanding the global nuances of procurement, planning, design, engineering and delivery, in energy, environment, property and transport. Gifford has undertaken many projects where the potential of flood damage to both existing and redevelopment sites could have significant physical and financial implications. They are able to assess flood risk from a wide range of potential mechanisms such as fluvial, tidal, ground water, infrastructure failure and pluvial events. Their assesment can mitigate flood risk by adapting the existing situation by means of managing the way in which flood waters reach and pass across a site. They are contributing to the Parnassus project in adaptation measures development and validation.

ARC Architects 

Arc Architects are an award-winning practice specializing in new ecological architecture, research and conservation of historic buildings. Their approach to design is inspired by vernacular traditions and the potential for modern architecture to create beautiful, well-lit spaces. They have been involved in numerous research projects focusing on construction materials, including two for UK Technology Strategy Board, two for Historic Scotland, and one for the Scottish Government. They bring a combined understanding of the needs of those involved in conservation practice on the ground and of the capabilities of the research community.

ARC's role in Parnassus is to guide the project as a member of the Steering Group and to act as liaison on the Scottish survey and monitoring sites. Arc also contributes to the project in the identification of flood damage to clay materials.

National institutional partners 

National Institutional Partners involved in the project are:

  1. Building Research Establishment (BRE), Scotland
  2. National Trust
  3. Historic Environment Scotland
  4. National Trust for Scotland
  5. English Heritage

Building Research Establishment (BRE), Scotland

Established in 1949, BRE Scotland now helps clients successfully meet the challenges they face in delivering a better built environment. BRE supports industry to achieve good thermal performance in buildings through publications, consultancy and research, providing services to clients seeking advice on building design and regulatory requirements.

National Trust

National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust does not operate in Scotland, where there is an independent National Trust for Scotland.

National Trust strongly supports Parnassus as climate change is the most significant long term threat to the nation’s natural and historic environment, and one of the National Trust’s greatest challenges. The impacts of climate change in the UK are already having tremendous implications for the inspirational and beautiful properties and landscapes the National Trust cares for on behalf of the nation. The Trust is learning how to manage these impacts.

Historic Scotland

Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government, charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment and promoting its understanding and enjoyment on behalf of Scottish Ministers. At Historic Scotland, the Conservation Group informs and sustains the conservation, repair and maintenance of the built environment.

National Trust for Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland is the conservation charity that protects and promotes Scotland's natural and cultural heritage for present and future generations to enjoy. The National Trust for Scotland’s portfolio of 129 properties includes some of the finest elements of Scotland`s architectural heritage.

English Heritage

English Heritage is the Government's statutory adviser on the historic environment. Officially known as the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, it is an executive Non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

English Heritage exists to make sure the best of the past is kept to enrich our lives today and in the future. It strives to protect England's historic buildings, monuments, parks, gardens, battlefields and wreck sites, by highlighting their special interest in a national context. It identifies an asset or site as having significance within the historic environment before any planning stage that may decide its future.

The National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP) sets out a new framework which will enable English Heritage (EH) and partners in the sector to ensure that our historic environment is appropriately and effectively protected.

International organisations 

International organisations involved in the project are:



The International Council on Monuments and Sites is an association of professionals that currently brings together approximately 9500 members throughout the world.

The International Scientific Committee on the Analysis and Restoration of Structures of Architectural Heritage (ISCARSAH) was founded by ICOMOS in 1996 as a forum and network for engineers involved in the restoration and care of building heritage. Based on the findings of Parnassus research project, ISCARSAH may consider the results for inclusion in the body of ISCARSAH Guidelines that are presently under development.


The International Scientific Committee on Earthen Architectural Heritage (ISCEAH) aims to carry out scientific inquiries, specialized studies, and to share information thereby contributing to the development of better practice and methods for the protection and conservation of the world’s earthen architectural, archaeological and cultural landscape heritage. ISCEAH encourages the participation and collaboration of people who play an important role in shaping, maintaining and conserving both the material and traditional knowledge (intangible heritage) of the earthen architectural, archaeological and cultural landscape heritage.


UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO’S mission and activities.

Project Progress 

UCL Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering

As part of the Parnassus project the development of a novel laboratory test procedure has been pursued, which looks to expose historic buildings to simulated wind-driven rain and flood conditions. The test will expose full-scale wall constructions to the climate conditions, in order to monitor and measure the structural and material effects on the stability and condition of a wall element. To date, a series of solid brick masonry, and timber-frame with masonry infill, wall specimens have been constructed using reclaimed historic building materials and air lime. On completion of curing these are scheduled for testing in Spring 2012. In addition, a programme of testing to define the characteristics of the reclaimed materials, such as porosity and strength has been carried out. Materials have also been sourced for the characterization programme from the historic buildings where monitoring has been undertaken, to complement the data collected using the on-site instrumentation.

Currently, four buildings are being monitored: Blickling Hall in Norfolk, Norwich, Arlington Court in Arlington, Old School Building in Cottown, Scotland, Odda’s Chapel in Deerhurst and Barker Tower in York. The monitoring system is designed to measure Temperature and Relative Humidity of the walls both internally and externally, on their surface and their interior to build a complete profile to correlate Wind-driven Rain load with walls moisture content and depth of penetration, and the content of moisture in the lower levels of the walls with rising damp due to water table level oscillations. Rainfall, wind speed and wind direction, ambient pressure and water level in the nearby watercourse are also being measured outside the buildings to understand the relevance of each parameter. Another building which is being considered for monitoring using the designed monitoring system is Guildhall in York. The modelling of the Abbey Mill and 1 Mill Bank in Tewkesbury is in progress and Numerical modelling will start soon.

University of Bristol, Department of Civil Engineering

Several Hartham Park Bath Stone samples have been tested at the University of Bristol, to determine the stone’s water absorption characteristics. The test results have been presented as upper bound, lower bound and average curves along with associated power law expressions for the water ingress rates over time. A useful observation from this work has been that curve fitting through data points obtained by application of the Newton-Raphson method to determine approximate water ingress rates from the raw test data leads to power law relationships which are similar to those obtained via the time square root approach defined in EN 1925. Photographs were used to record the time-changing height of water, evident from the change of colour of the Hartham Park Bath Stone. Retests were performed to explore potential effects of redistribution / ejection of salts etc within / from the stone due to the first cycle of water ingress and egress, with no palpable effect. These determined water ingress properties will be used to inform on immersion strategy during the imminent Freeze-Thaw (FT) testing of Hartham Park Bath Stone. A main feature of the FT testing will be application of vertical compression (to reflect load-bearing in reality) to the stone samples throughout the freezing, thawing and immersion phases. A 100 tonne axial capacity machine will apply the compression through steel platens to the samples during the freezing and thawing phases in an environmental chamber. To permit retention of the compression during immersion, a special stainless steel prestressing rig has been designed and fabricated at the University of Bristol. Instrumentation including strain gauges and thermocouples will be used to quantify changes to the mechanical integrity of the stone samples throughout the FT regime to conclusion.

University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences

A full modelling cascade is now in place consisting of regional climate models, rainfall-run-off models and a 2D flood inundation model. Further analysis of the application of climate models in future flood risk projection has revealed the inadequacies of many current methods. Alternative techniques of future flow generation have been explored and tested, identifying the most suitable application of climate models in future flood projection. The climate model ensembles' includes future projections of temperature and precipitation for the 1960-2099 period. With rainfall runoff models and flood inundation models in place, projected changes to rainfall and temperature can be used to simulate future flooding. The HBV-light rainfall run-off model has been implemented for both the Severn at Saxons lode, and Avon at Evesham with the models being calibrated to 1970-2008 observations. With runoff models in place first projections of future flow scenarios have been carried out for the 2070-2099 period. Further improvement of the 2D flood inundation model of Tewkesbury and Deerhurst has also been carried out. In addition to simulating the 2007 flood event, the December 2000 event has also been simulated. This will be used to produce design flood hydrographs for differing exceedance probability events i.e 1:100 1:50, under future climate conditions.

University of Southampton, School of Humanities 

In collaboration with Penny, Matthew has been leading the survey work at Bodiam Castle and landscape. Bodiam, in south-east England, is one the most famous castles in Europe; it was built in the 1380s by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, at the same time as the surrounding landscape was transformed. Bodiam is particularly significant for the Parnassus project as it was deliberately placed and designed to sit in water -- the artificial moat that surrounds it laps up against the walls. Matthew is preparing papers on the lived experience of the castle and drawing together secondary material on the long-term climatic and environmental history of the region.

Matthew is also engaging with the wider understanding of climate change, definitions of environment, and society. He is writing (with Penny) a joint paper on "Early Modern Housing and the Little Ice Age" at the AHRC-funded Environment and Identity Conference being hosted by English Heritage in July 2011.

Penny Copeland has recently been researching the historic responses to the worsening weather conditions experienced during the Little Ice Age as demonstrated by changes in building techniques. A joint paper is being given with Professor Matthew Johnson on “Early Modern Housing and the Little Ice Age” at the AHRC funded Environment and Identity Conference being hosted by English Heritage in July 2011.

In particular, she has been looking at attitudes to flooding expressed but the decision to build on flood plains or close to water. As part of this research, Penny has been surveying Bodiam Castle, East Sussex with students on the survey course at the University of Southampton. Bodiam Castle dates to around 1385, and therefore within the Little Ice Age, and is surrounded by an artificially created moat. The goal of the survey is to look at floor levels in relation to the surrounding water levels and living arrangements within the castle.

In addition to survey work at Bodiam, Penny has also been researching the history of the case study buildings chosen for possible monitoring and availability of core information in the local area. 


Parnassus project resources and weblinks 
  • Integrated Flood Risk Analysis and Management Methodologies  - FLOODsite is an EC 6th Framework Programme Integrated Project, undertaking research of over €14M value through 37 partner organisations and over 250 individual researchers.
  • Centre for Built Environment Research - (CBER) is one of the three research centres in School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering (SPACE) at Queen's University, Belfast. It integrates Structures and Materials Research Team (SMART) from Civil Engineering and the Architecture Research Team (ART), carrying out research on temperature and moisture changes in building materials.
  • School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford  - One of the specific themes in their research is building stone decay and conservation.  Prof. Heather Viles' research  involves studies at the interface of geomorphology with ecology, engineering geology, environmental chemistry and materials conservation.
  • UK Groundwater Forum - Groundwater is not only a source of drinking water for millions of people in the UK but also supports our rivers and wetlands and the plants and wildlife that exist in and around them. However, groundwater is under threat from our increasing water needs, pollution and climate change.
  • BuildingConservation.com includes over 1,500 companies and organisations covering every aspect of the conservation, restoration and repair of the historic built environment.
  • Effects of Urban Development on Floods by U.S. Geological Survey- Information about streamflow and how it is affected by land use can help communities reduce their current and future vulnerability to floods.
  • Planning and Building Standards Advice on Flooding - A case study in Wakefield: Flood prevention scheme and environmental enhancements.
  • Case Study - Adapting Historic Environments to Moisture Related Climate Change by Centre for Sustainable Heritage (CSH).
  • Climate change compendium: Flooding and Drainage by The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) - UK's leading planning body for spatial, sustainable, integrative and inclusive planning.
  • Historic Environment Local Management - latest training information 
  • UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage (CSH) - The centre works on sustainable heritage and heritage science.
  • B/560 and CEN/TC 346 - Two standards regarding the "Conservation of tangible cultural heritage" that are being prepared with the contribution of Parnassus Project.