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Cardiff Chemists collaborate to conserve York Minster

17 November 2009

Dr Karen Wilson, in collaboration with Professor Adam Lee in Cardiff and Dr Kate Giles at the University of York, are using advanced X-ray techniques to investigate the composition of the limestone and historic mortars used to build York Minster, and the ways in which these have decayed as a result of weathering and pollution over time. This research is part of the cross-council Science and Heritage Programme.

Dr Karen Wilson explains the impact of the work:

“This work is very important for society because by advising the key people involved in the conservation of such historic buildings we can ensure the survival of these beautiful architectures for future generations.”  

The research, co-funded by EPSRC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), uses an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer to explore the limestone in microscopic detail to study the salt deposits and other compounds contained within it that can cause the stone to erode. The work is helping to advise conservation experts how best to treat the stone to prevent further decay and what materials to use in the current restoration of the Minster’s East Front.

Drs Wilson and Giles can be seen talking about the project at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g-wGYdy8XE