NHSF is asking the heritage science community to help it 'Fill the Gaps' in knowledge and understanding identified by the National Heritage Science Strategy.
In 2015 NHSF commissioned an initial review of the heritage science research that had been carried out since 2009. The resulting report ‘Filling the Gaps’ maps research listed on the Gateway to Research (i.e. funded by the UK Research Councils) to the gaps in knowledge and practice identified in “The role of science in the management of the UK's heritage”, one of the three evidence reports produced to support the development of the National Heritage Science Strategy.

NHSF is now working with the heritage science community to ‘crowd-source’ knowledge of heritage science research to further ‘fill the gaps’ in the 10 topics identified in the evidence report.

We want to identify the gaps in knowledge and practice that remain so that we can promote them to researchers and funders as opportunities to be addressed in the future. We also want to be able to share information on where to find research that has been carried out.

This survey addresses the eighth topic area ‘Improving practice in the assessment and monitoring of state'.

The National Heritage Science Strategy evidence report identified the need to improve practice in the assessment and monitoring of the condition of historic and archaeological material, by developing new tools and furthering existing methods.

To be able to do this, the evidence report identified a need to further develop existing, new and increasingly portable methods, including:
  • increasing the range of NDT (non-destructive testing) methods of organic analysis, for example characterisation of organic dyes and binders
  • further development of NDT systems to assess condition (such as analysis of state of deterioration of iron gall inks)
  • new NDT methods to look at changes in colour of pigments and dyes
  • increasing the use of laser scanning for conservation reporting (i.e. 2D/3D surface mapping for condition analysis)
  • using GIS and digital images to map and monitor biofilm development on buildings
  • transfer of techniques used in collections assessment to assess the preservation of archaeological remains
  • improving condition assessment of organic component of archaeological bones
  • further development of acoustic characterisation of deterioration state of in situ marine archaeological wood
  • further development of volatile organic compound detection equipment
The report also addressed the need for the development of new tools, including:
  • cumulative light exposure dosimeters with read outs
  • RH monitors/paper which responds when critical levels are breached (for use in storage boxes for archaeological iron for example)
  • simple pollution monitors, including for volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • continued development of methods for monitoring dust
  • improved range of NDT methods for assessing moisture and moisture movements in walls
  • non-intrusive assessment of concrete and reinforcement corrosion
  • protocols for use and data collection
  • standardisation of tools and better provision of advice
  • development of methods of object-based monitoring systems for archaeological sites, i.e. rods with iron coupons that can be buried then removed at intervals to assess redox levels
  • in situ monitoring of degradation products such as carbon dioxide and methane as guide to decay rates of organic archaeological deposits
  • improved monitoring techniques for maritime sites.

Please add your knowledge of research, started after 2009, that addresses any of these areas against the relevant heading on the following page. It can be published or unpublished research, completed or underway.