Research excellence at the University of Kent


Major conservation research helps raise Mary Rose to new life in museum

The Mary RoseConservation research undertaken by the University of Kent has helped enable the safe preservation of the Mary Rose in one of the most significant salvage projects to take place in recent times.

Working alongside the Mary Rose Trust in a £35 million project, scientists at the University have developed new techniques to ensure the timbers of the Mary Rose are preserved successfully when on display in the new museum, which opened in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard last month.

Led by Professor Alan Chadwick, alongside Professor Bob Newport - both from the University’s School of Physical Sciences - the research involved establishing the correct compound to treat the ship’s wood to stop deposits of sulfur salts on its surface, which go on to erode and attack it.

Known to affect timber ships that have been raised from the sea bed and then react with the air, the research identified a chemical solution to soak into the wood to ensure it does not further degrade when in museum conditions. Without the new conservation chemistry, the wood could weaken and ultimately become difficult to preserve and to display publicly.

Professor Chadwick said: 'Helping to preserve a unique national treasure has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my research career. It has been a pleasure to work with the excellent and dedicated scientists at the Trust whilst also being given the opportunity to work on a research project that has resulted in a tangible benefit to the general public.'

As well as significant research to preserve the ship for its new museum, Kent and Mary Rose Trust scientists will also undertake further investigation over the next 10 years while the ship is on display. In the first study of its kind to look into changes in the chemistry of water-logged wood whilst in the museum environment, the research team will monitor and explore chemical conservation techniques whilst the ship is on display to the public in the museum.


Story published at 3:12pm 26 June 2013

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Last Updated: 09/05/2013