Heritage science and caring for war memorials

Over 100,000 war memorials exist in the UK, with the majority commemorating the two World Wars and other historic conflicts. Unfortunately, many memorials are made of exposed stone and they are losing the fight against environmental weathering with critical incised and relief inscriptions slowing fading away.

Weathering away of names on a WW1 memorial.

Weathering away of names on a WW1 memorial.

Dr Myra Giesen, from ICCHS, is working with Professor David Graham (Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University) and MEng student, Laura Chatwin, to collect physical data on the current condition of twelve key monuments in NE England (e.g., elemental content using X-ray fluorescence, salt crystallisation, water seepage, local and historic air quality). While Laura is focusing on the science underpinning weathering of the stone itself, Myra is looking at how this information and other variables can be used to increase management options for such memorials, including guidance for host municipalities and private individuals.

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