‘Conserving and Managing Ancient Monuments’ – new Heritage Matters publication

Conserving and Managing Ancient Monuments

The latest volume (book number 14) in the Heritage Matters series has just been published. ‘Conserving and Managing Ancient Monuments’ is written by Dr Keith Emerick, a practising heritage manager of 25 years’ experience and a Research Associate at the University of York.

The origins and use of conservation principles and practice from the nineteenth century to the present day are charted in this volume. Written from the perspective of a practitioner, it examines the manner in which a single, dominant mode of conservation, which held sway for many decades, is now coming under pressure from a different and more democratic heritage management practice, favouring diversity, inclusion and difference. The author blends case studies from Ireland, Cyprus and England with examples from current practice, community heritage initiatives and political policy, highlighting the development and use of international charters and conventions. Central to the main argument of the book is that the sacred cows of conservation – antiquity, fabric and authenticity – have outlived their usefulness and need to be rethought.

Details of other books in the Heritage Matters series can be found on the ICCHS Research and Engagement pages. These publications can be purchased through Boydell and Brewer.

British Rock Art Group Conference 2014

ICCHS poster for BRAG 2014ICCHS was well represented at the annual British Rock Art Group (BRAG) conference at the University of Edinburgh on Saturday 3 May 2014. Organised by Dr Tertia Barnett (School of History, Classics and Archaeology), the programme comprised 14 papers, seven posters, and several interactive sessions, including a stone carving workshop!

Myra Giesen presented a paper ‘Expanded results in the CARE of rock art in the UK and Ireland’, on behalf of the CARE project team at Newcastle University and Queen’s University Belfast . She updated the conference about the fieldwork that has been completed in Northumberland, Dumfries and Galloway, and Donegal and some of the insights that this has generated. This includes a possible link between the deterioration of rock art and the height of rock art panels and salt content in soils. The possible relationship between these factors and climate change is also being explored (Giesen et al. 2014). Myra’s presentation was complemented by a poster entitled ‘Heritage & Science: Working Together in the CARE of Rock Art’ which highlighted the CARE fieldwork and results and also mentioned the focus group meetings that the CARE team held in Northumberland to obtain feedback from a range of stakeholders on the monitoring toolkit that is being developed.

Aron Mazel’s presentation covered his research into the richly painted Didima Gorge in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountains in South Africa where Harald Pager recorded 3909 paintings in 17 rock shelters in the 1960s. Aron has linked the abundance of rock art in the gorge to its acoustic qualities (Mazel, 2011) and is now investigating the distribution of painting themes along the 5.5 km gorge.

Visit Andy Curtis’s Heddon on the Wall local history blog for more commentary about BRAG 2014.

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.

Curating Human Remains workshop

Workshop participants during a practical workshop session

Last month Myra Giesen delivered a presentation on the ethical and legislative framework surrounding the curation of human remains. The event, held appropriately at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, was organized jointly by the Human Remains Subject Specialist Network and the Museum Ethnographers Group. Contributors included leading practitioners in the field, including specialists from the Natural History Museum and the Museum of London.

More than thirty curators, conservators and archaeologists attended the London event and future workshops on the topic and a possible online version are planned.

For further details of the February workshop and for news on new event dates visit the Museum Ethnographers’ Group Blog.

Rock Art CARE Project Donegal Fieldwork

The project team.

The project team (left to right): A. Mazel, P. Lewis, P, Warke, M, Giesen, R. Enlander.

The Heritage and Science: Working Together in the CARE of Rock Art project completed its third and final data collection exercise in early September. The team included Dr Aron Mazel, Dr Myra Giesen and Peter Lewis from Newcastle University with Dr Patricia Warke and Dr Rebecca Enlander from Queen’s University Belfast.

The team visited several rock art sites in Donegal, Ireland, to gather further scientific data on the contributing factors to rock art decay. Twenty four panels were analysed in a variety of conditions, some almost perfect but others were very eroded. This was very helpful in providing a variety of data that can be used to analyse the factors affecting rock art condition. Despite very high concentrations of rock art, especially in an area called Doagh Island, all the sites were on private land and not signposted or easily accessible.

Donegal rock art.

Example of rock art in an excellent condition.

As usual soil samples were taken at each site but unfortunately, and not for the first time, the XRF machine broke down so it was impossible to analyse the rock composition. This will now be done at a later date. The findings, along with the written recordings of risk factors at the panels, will help to further shape the tool kit and management guide that aim to help protect rock art.

With the data collected for the Donegal sites, the fieldwork element of the project is now complete. The next phase of the project will focus on continuing with consultations over the toolkit and management guide with a view to disseminating the final products in January 2014.

Find out more about the CARE project and the forthcoming toolkit and management guide visit http://research.ncl.ac.uk/heritagescience/

To join a wider discussion about rock art and rock art sites visit the Rock Art of the UK and Ireland page on Facebook.

‘Making Sense of Place’ sells out! Paperback next?

Making Sense of PlaceThe International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies is the focus for the book series ‘Heritage Matters’, published by Boydell and Brewer. It is a series of edited and single-authored volumes which addresses the whole range of issues that confront the cultural heritage sector as we face the global challenges of the twenty-first century. Full details of the series can be found hereMaking Sense of Place: multidisciplinary perspectives was published in April 2012 in hardback as Number 7 in the Heritage Matters Series and has now sold out, both in Europe and the USA. The book was edited by Ian Convery (Cumbria University) and two members of staff at ICCHS, Gerard Corsane and Peter Davis.

Making Sense of Place explores the term “sense of place”, a term used to understand the complex processes through which individuals and groups define themselves and their relationship to their natural and cultural environments. The term has, over the last twenty years or so, been increasingly defined, theorized and used across diverse disciplines in different ways. Sense of place mediates our relationship with the world and with each other; it provides a profoundly important foundation for individual and community identity. It can be an intimate, deeply personal experience yet also something which we share with others. It is at once recognizable but never constant; rather it is embodied in the flux between familiarity and difference. Research in this area requires culturally and geographically nuanced analyses, approaches that are sensitive to difference and specificity, event and locale. The essays in the book are drawn from a variety of disciplines (including but not limited to sociology, history, geography, outdoor education, museum and heritage studies, health, and English literature), and offer an international perspective on the relationship between people and place, via five interlinked sections (Histories, Landscapes and Identities; Rural Sense of Place; Urban Sense of Place; Cultural Landscapes; Conservation, Biodiversity and Tourism).

For full details of the series, please visit http://www.boydellandbrewer.com/store/listCategoriesAndProducts.asp?idCategory=111

Heritage and Science: Working Together in the CARE of Rock Art

ICCHS has begun an exciting new project focussing on developing materials and research that will aid in the protection of delicate rock art in Northumberland and beyond.

Open air rock art is an iconic part of the UK’s prehistoric heritage, with 3500 panels still in existence that date from between 6000 and 3800 years ago. It is a common misconception that as this work has existing for so long it does not require conservation approaches.

Scientific appraisal of rock art in Northumberland has highlighted that due to factors such as climate change and local environmental conditions rock art has deteriorated at a faster rate in the last 50 years than in any of the preceding 6000. Further research will be undertaken through this project in order to add to this scientific understanding.

It is vital that a joint approach between heritage and science be undertaken in order to ensure rock art is not lost. CARE aims to co-produce a user-friendly tool kit for the use of specialists and non specialists alike to gather information essential for the long term preservation of open air rock art. This will be achieved through disseminating the results through publications and as well as creating a “how to guide” for individuals who have panel care responsibilities. This work will be a co-production with these stakeholders through utilising focus groups and pilot studies.

This project is collaboration between ICCHS and the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences from Newcastle University and the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s University Belfast. The project will be managed by Myra Giesen, with Peter Lewis joining her as a Research Assistant. Peter graduated from ICCHS in 2009 with an MA in Heritage Management and has since worked as a Project Manager on a variety of community based projects.