Bournemouth University's department of conservation sciences helps to solve complex scientific and practical problems associated with safeguarding elements of the nation's heritage.
The interdisciplinary department combines education, research and consultancy and offers unique degree courses in building conservation technology and heritage conservation. The 50 staff boast an impressive range of expertise including conservation architecture, chemistry, materials science, masonry, engineering and ecology.
Bryan Brown, head of department, says that the research, consultancy and field services offered by his colleagues have already made significant contributions to the long-term conservation of many important historical monuments and buildings including Osborne House and Peel Castle. Graduates find employment in major conservation and cathedral workshops and bodies such as the National Trust and English Heritage.
Professor Brown says that a key achievement of the department is the success it has had in marrying top quality science education with the vocational needs of the nation. He says that historic buildings ranging from castles, cathedrals and historic great houses to a wide range of domestic and industrial structures are frequently in continued and important use. But many elements of both the built and archaeological heritage are in serious danger. Problems range from air pollution to natural processes such as decay and ageing. The impact of visitors exacerbates the problems.
But historic artefacts are only part of a spectrum of activities at the department. The management of artefacts in their natural environments including coastal zones is also an important feature of its work. This provides the department with a seamless spread of interests from artefacts to landscape management, planning and the environmental impact of visitors.
Research undertaken for English Heritage by the department includes a study of planning controls in the conservation of archaeology and, more recently, a Pounds 1 million three-year project to survey and record the state of the English archaeological resource as a prelude to the development of new grant aid systems and planning advice.
Considerable interest is being shown by the department in funding that will be made available through the National Lottery for projects to preserve the nation's heritage. Professor Brown says if the department applies for funding it will be in collaboration with other institutions.