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Professor David Watkinson

Professor David Watkinson

Professor of Conservation, Head of Archaeology and Conservation and Deputy Head of School

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 (0)29 2087 4249
+44 (0)29 208 74929
3.16, John Percival Building
Media commentator


Research interests

  • Structure, decay and conservation of historical and archaeological objects.
  • Corrosion and conservation of metals; specifically iron.
  • Corrosion of archaeological glass.
  • Long term storage of metals in museums.
  • Methodology and accuracy in collection survey.
  • The education and training of conservation professionals.

Research projects


Education and qualifications

Dip. Cons. (UCL)

MSc University College Cardiff

Notable achievements

  • Plowden Medal 2010 awarded for 'innovative research and services to conservation.
  • Part of conservation team that won the Gulbenkian Museum prize for the ss Great Britain in 2006.
  • Invited speaker - Gordon research Conference on Aqueous Corrosion 2010

Honours and awards

  • Plowden Medal 2010
  • Gulbenkian Museum Prize 2006 (Team member – ss Great Britain)
  • Anna Plowden Award for Research and Innovation in Conservation (Short listed 2007)
  • UK Conservation Award (Short listed 2007)

Professional memberships

  • Council Member International Institute for Conservation
  • Accredited Member the Institute of Conservation (ICON)
  • Fellow International Institute for Conservation (IIC)
  • Fellow Society of Antiquaries of London
  • Member of International Council of Museums (ICOM)
  • Heritage Council Ireland – Panel of Conservators
  • Executive Committee member of United Kingdom Institute for Conservation 1980-3
  • Chair - Archaeology Section of United Kingdom Institute for Conservation 1983-88
  • Editor Conservation News 1979 – 84
  • Editorial Advisor for Conservator 1989 - 91


We are currently unable to retrieve the list of publications. Visit our institutional repository.


Course leader:

  • BSc Conservation of Objects in Museums and Archaeology
  • MSc Professional Conservation
  • MSc Conservation Practice
  • MSc Care of Collections


  • Corrosion and conservation of metals
  • Decay and conservation of wet wood
  • Theory and practice in the workplace
  • Method in conservation
  • Analysis of materials
  • Practical conservation projects
  • Conservation independent study
  • Conservation dissertation
  • Archaeological Science
  • Masters dissertations
  • PhD supervision


Quantifying corrosion of historical wrought iron and steel to develop predictive preservation methods and strategies

AHRC/CDA in partnership with Historic Scotland and the Tank Museum

This AHRC/CDA studentship project begins in October 2012. It will quantitatively determine corrosion rates of wrought iron and modern steels then assess the performance of selected protective coatings on their surfaces within a range of controlled environments. The data will be contextualized for heritage by examining how it can be used in evidence based management of ferrous metal heritage. Project partners are Historic Scotland and The Tank Museum, who will take an active part in the research, trial its outcomes and offer strong communication routes for dissemination to the sector.

Learn more about the quantifying corrosion of historical wrought iron and steel project

Evidence-based Condition-Monitoring Strategy for Preservation of Heritage Iron

This 3-year £365,000 interdisciplinary project was awarded to Cardiff University and is funded by the AHRC/EPSRC Science and Heritage Large Grants programme . David Watkinson is the Principal Investigator. It began in 2010 and it will define and measure the variables which influence the corrosion rate of archaeological and historic iron artefacts using real archaeological objects. Further to this it will develop methods of measuring the corrosive potential of storage and display environments. The project is a partnership between the Cardiff University Department of Archaeology and Conservation and the University of Manchester School of Materials.

Learn more about the preservation of Heritage Iron project

ss Great Britain: Corrosion and conservation

Cardiff University Department of Archaeology and Conservation carried out scientific research that underpinned the preservation of Brunel's 1843 iron steamship ss Great Britain (Link to new project page on ss Great Britain.).  The ship is a major visitor attraction in Bristol receiving 170,000 visitors in 2010 compared to 70,000 p.a. before its conservation. The preservation process is highly visible and involves desiccating the ship to stop it corroding, consequently it forms an integral part of the visitor experience. There is a feeling that Brunel would be proud of the cutting edge science and technology preserving his ship, as it sits well with his reputation as an innovator.  The project has received £44,000 in funding. Collaboration and research with ss Great Britain trust continues to date.

Learn more about the ss Great Britain corrosion and conservation project

Preparation of historic wrought iron surfaces to receive protective coatings and evaluation of paint performance

This £24,000 one year project is funded by Historic Scotland who are collaborating with Cardiff University to examine differing ways of removing paint from historic wrought iron, such as railings and canopies, in preparation for repainting. The goal is to begin to construct an evidence based platform for the conservation of historic wrought iron, leading to best practice guidelines for maintenance procedures.

Learn more about the Preparation of historic wrought iron surfaces

Areas of expertise