Specialist Services Conservation

Conserved leather sheath ( MoLAS)

Author: Liz Goodman

Specialist Services offer a wide variety of conservation services for museums, historic collections, archaeological units and private individuals. Specialist Services conservators are involved in all parts of the archaeological process; this can range from the lifting of large or fragile objects from an ongoing excavation to preparing excavated artefacts for publication and deposition in the LAARC. Work has also been undertaken on contract to numerous private owners and has ranged from a painted wooden shop sign to reconstructing a ceramic sculpture.

The work undertaken by Specialist Services conservators covers a wide range of materials. Recent projects include the stabilisation of large quantities of wet leather from King Edwards Buildings in the City of London. Waterlogged material was pre-treated with glycerol and then freeze-dried; this included items that were then reconstructed to clarify their decoration in preparation for illustration. Metal objects such as those from the Paternoster development were investigated using X-radiography and then by removing corrosion using hand tools under a microscope to reveal the original shape of the object. On-site work has included the lifting of fragile Roman cremations from a site in Milton Keynes. During the controlled excavation in the laboratory, a number of copper-alloy brooches were discovered along with the cremated remains.

Specialist Services conservators have also been managing the conservation aspects of a number of large projects. The remains of the Roman amphitheatre, which were discovered in 1988, were finally opened to the public in 2003. Specialist Services Conservation were contracted to run the final phase of this project. This involved monitoring the building contractors when working on the site, the installation of the surrounding gravel and the assessment, recording and co-ordinating of the ongoing maintenance of the monument.

This site report is extracted from MoLAS 2003: annual review

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