SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab & Sheldonian Theatre

2nd International SEAHA Conference 2016 – a great success!

The 2nd International SEAHA conference took place on 20-21 June at the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University.

The Annual Conference is a student-led initiative of the EPSRC-funded SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training, which is a partnership of UCL, Brighton and Oxford universities.

The conference was organised by a committee of SEAHA students and chaired by Scott Allan Orr, a second year SEAHA student based at Oxford University. Reflecting on the success of the event, Scott said:

“This year’s conference built on the success of the inaugural event while introducing ambitious new elements to enhance the programme: we were especially proud to develop breakout sessions that enabled delegates with common interests to dig deeper into specialised techniques and topics. An accompanying thematic series with Heritage Science journal will further solidify the conference’s role and importance in our growing field. Tours of our world-leading scientific and conservation facilities and networking opportunities hosted in some of the university’s most historic venues demonstrated that Oxford truly is a ‘living laboratory’ for heritage science. The feedback we’ve received has been nothing but positive; I can’t wait to experience what Brighton has in store for us next year.”

Over 150 delegates attended the conference over two days, representing 75 institutions based in more than 20 countries. The programme included keynote addresses from three eminent individuals:

Following the event, Sir Philip Campbell said:

“There are essential research activities that support discovery and conservation of the buildings, documents, artworks and community histories that make up our heritage. This work makes a great contribution to economies and to well-being. All strength and support to the researchers who do it!”

The conference was an incredibly multi-disciplinary event, providing a platform for scientists, researchers, engineers, professionals, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and policy-makers, to engage and discuss emerging trends in the field. There were a range of presentation topics, a few examples include: Predictive digitization, restoration and degradation assessment of cultural heritage objects; Mobile environmental monitoring system for heritage science based on smartphone technology; Non-invasive analyses of illuminated manuscripts and Modelling the degradation of historical paper induced by iron gall ink. To view the full programme of presentations, please visit the conference website.

It was endorsed by the Institute of Conservation and the National Heritage Science Forum, with support from the Analytical Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The conference also included breakout sessions that gave delegates the opportunity to discuss specialised topics, participate in hands-on demonstrations of novel techniques, and visit the University of Oxford’s world-leading scientific and conservation facilities. The Book of Abstracts and programme are preserved on the conference webpage, where a subset of the presentation and posters presented will also be available in due course.

We are delighted to announce that the 3rd International SEAHA Conference will be hosted by the University of Brighton on 19–20 June 2017. Please check the SEAHA website for further details.

HEADER IMAGE: SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab beside the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Photo credit: E. Keats Webb.


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SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab proves a big hit at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2016

The SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab (MHL) team was delighted to attend the Cheltenham Science Festival which took place 9-12 June 2016. During the four days of festival 9 SEAHA students engaged with more than 500 visitors who entered the mobile lab and participated in heritage science experiments. Popular attractions on display in the Mobile Heritage Lab included the opportunity to inspect samples of historic tapestries, provided by Hampton Court (Historic Royal Palaces) and “Thermies” (Thermal camera selfies), which the groups of schoolchildren found fascinating!

The activities were extraordinarily well received and got numerous visitors a day following word of mouth referrals from other festival attendees who were excited to see “the tapestries and the fake painting”. In fact, the painting was a portrait created by SEAHA students in order to demonstrate the techniques used to study paint layers and underdrawings.

1st year SEAHA student Mark Kearney, one of the 9 SEAHA students who attended the event, said:

“Participating in the Cheltenham Science Festival as part of SEAHA was a fantastic experience to gain in my first year of study. There are few public engagement events where this could have taken place; being able to explain, to both children and adults, the role heritage science plays in the larger heritage industry was quite rewarding. It was fascinating to engage with the kids and teach them more about the practical applications of the science they learn in school. Furthermore, it was very positive to hear direct feedback from adults who found the topic both interesting and of real importance for our heritage fabric.”

Dr Josep Grau-Bove, MHL Coordinator and Assistant Course Director for the MRes SEAHA programme at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, said:

“The most satisfying aspect of participating at the Cheltenham Festival was seeing heritage science presented alongside other, more established, scientific fields. Many visitors were surprised, even pleased, that such an application of science existed”.

For information regarding about the Mobile Heritage Lab, please visit the SEAHA website:

The Mobile Heritage Lab goes to Cheltenham Science Festival

Explaining SEAHA to the public during an Open Day in UCL.

Explaining SEAHA to the public during an Open Day in UCL.

The SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab has been invited to participate in this year’s edition of the Cheltenham Science Festival, one of the largest science festivals in the world. Nine PhD researchers will travel to the festival to explain Heritage Science and their PhD research during a 4 day event, from the 9th to the 12th of June. The Mobile Heritage Lab will loaded up with a wide variety of scientific instruments. Inside the lab, visitors will experience “History under the microscope”, an exploration of several historical materials with techniques for surface analysis, such as profilometry, reflective transformation imaging and 3D microscopy. Visitors will also be able to experiment with different sources of light (Ultra Violet and Infra Red) in order to reveal hidden features of artworks. Outside the lab, the students will demonstrate the operation of the Ground Penetrating Radar, a technique that uses radio waves to investigate the subsurface. The radar can detect voids and changes in soil density, which could indicate archaeological remains, burials or a treasure chest – and SEAHA students have ensured visitors will find something interesting underground.
Never before has heritage science featured so strongly in the programme of the festival. It is a great opportunity to learn hands on about the cutting edge techniques used for the preservation of cultural heritage. If you are planning to attend the Cheltenham festival this year, you’ll find the unmistakable white silhouette of the Mobile Heritage Lab in the very centre of the action, in the Imperial Gardens behind the Town Hall.

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SEAHA Special Seminar in Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging

SEAHA are delighted to announce a Special Seminar in Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging, taking place at Wolfson College in Oxford on Thursday 30th June 2016.

Why Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging?

Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging are making big news in heritage science with almost weekly ‘discoveries’ being reported in the Press. A relatively new technique developed in astrophysics and applied to military applications and environmental studies, it has even more recently been embraced by imaging scientists and heritage professionals. Progress and development in this area is so exciting and so rapid that we are taking this opportunity to invite anyone involved with or simply interested in these techniques to attend a one day seminar to find out more.

Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging are the focus of three doctoral studentships within SEAHA but the techniques will be used to some extent in a much larger number of projects. There are also several different imaging systems within the SEAHA partnership which enable research into the problems of standardisation, portability and comparison of data. This seminar not only showcases the preliminary work of the students, but also brings together some of the leading practitioners from across the globe. These experts will explain how the technology works and how it has been successfully applied in a number of specific case studies.

The event will include talks from a wide range of specialists in this field and will end with a panel discussion on working together in the future and what the next steps should be.

David Howell, Head of Heritage Science at the Bodleian Libraries, and conference organiser, said:

“This event realises a dream I had around a year ago where I imagined a group of people like me who are amazed and thrilled by the power of multispectral and hyperspectral imaging sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge with a wide audience. Thanks to support from SEAHA and the Icon Science Group, this has enabled a stellar lineup in a great venue where people can relax over a proper lunch between amazing talks. I look forward to hearing what the next generation of heritage scientists are up to with a series of talks by SEAHA students and other professionals in the field.”

Bodleian are delighted to announce that John Delaney, Senior Imaging Scientist, Scientific Research Department, National Gallery of Art in Washington will also join the event to talk about his research, which focuses on the development and application of remote sensing imaging methods for the study of works of arts. This is very much at the forefront of hyperspectral Imaging and a testament to the quality of the event that John has agreed to make this special appearance.

Heard of these techniques and want to know what it’s all about? Then you should attend!

Already using these techniques but want to know what others are doing? Then you should attend!

To book your place click on the following link:

For further detail regarding the event, please click here.

IMAGE: A demon revealed by hyperspectral imaging in MS. Arm. D.13 Folio 22r, an Armenian manuscript held by Bodleian Library’s Special Collections.



SEAHA student Panos Andrikopoulos chairs #MuseumHour

#MuseumHour is a Twitter chat happening every Monday, at 8pm BST focused on museum and heritage topics. SEAHA student Panos Andrikopoulos ( @Phil_Kimby ) and fellow student Danny Garside ( @da5nsy ), were invited to chair the #MuseumHour conversation on Museum Lighting. The discussion started from what consists “good museum lighting” and quickly evolved to address new lighting technologies, lighting policy decision and conservation versus access and included artists, curators, conservators and lighting designers. A summary of the discussion can be found on storify ( ).  Panos is a first year student in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Science Engineering Arts Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) and Danny is a PhD research student within the 3D Impact group in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at UCL.


SEAHA Student Cecilia Bembibre Sniffs out Historic Smells

Cecilia Bembibre, 2nd-year SEAHA student at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, has recently completed training in chemical and sensory analysis of odours with Odournet SL, industry partner in her Smell of Heritage project. Working in the company’s laboratory in Barcelona, Cecilia has analysed samples of historic value from National Trust’s property Knole House. The combination of analytical chemistry (Time-of-Flight Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry) and the human nose (via GC-sniffing) allowed for the most sophisticated characterization of odours, helping us understand the information historic smells carry and how it can impact our interpretation of the past.


SEAHA Mobile Heritage Lab visits Brighton for EAC Symposium

The Mobile Heritage Lab participated in the European Archaeological Council (EAC) symposium in Brighton. 50 conference delegates visited the laboratory facilities during their visit to the site of the Long Man of Wilmington. In the lab, Josep Grau-Bové (MRes Assistant Course Director) and Lik Ren-Tai (Mobile Heritage Lab Driver and Lab Technician) explained the research carried out by SEAHA PhD students and displayed some of the props created by students to be used in public engagement activities. For more information regarding the Mobile Heritage Lab, please see the SEAHA website:


Successful SEAHA Year 1 Student Field Trip

Year 1 SEAHA students (MRes year) just returned from a field trip in Herefordshire. We carried out our research in a privately owned historic mansion with stunning history, amazing building fabric and unique collections.

Three research topics were developed with the extraordinarily helpful house managers: (i) effect of the recently installed central heating, (ii) multi- and hyperspectral imaging of paintings and (iii) preventive conservation of iron armoury. Having packed the entire mobile lab, we divided into three groups and collected mountains of data. Short presentations were given to the house management before we left back for London, and detailed reports will be written by each group in the coming months, providing useful evidence-based advice to the house curator.



On the 17th of June 2016, SEAHA doctoral student Hend Mahgoub will present her research  in a talk at the conference of the Institute of Conservation entitled “Turn and Face the Change: Conservation in the 21st Century” in Birmingham. Hend’s topic focuses on scientific characterization of materials properties of Islamic paper and she will present a new non-destructive spectroscopic technique for surveying of Islamic paper based on Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. This has shown the potential of developing evidence-based preservation policies tailored to Islamic libraries and archives. For more information in the event, please visit the conference website.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology