SEAHA Conference 2015

1st International Conference on Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA), University College London, 14-15 July 2015


By using and developing science to understand, manage and communicate the human story expressed through landscape, buildings and artefacts, heritage science encourages the humanities and sciences to collaborate and strengthen each other.” -UK National Heritage Science Strategy

The first international conference on heritage science research, innovation and best practice in the interpretation, conservation and management of cultural heritage took place at University College London, 14-15 July 2015. Heritage science is a cross-disciplinary field connecting science and the humanities. The conference provided a platform for scientists, researchers, engineers, professionals, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and policy-makers, to engage and discuss emerging trends in the field.  There is an ongoing dialogue over global issues, which define the research and technological applications of heritage scientists.

Following the full cycle of creation of data, the development of data into knowledge and of knowledge to enterprise, this conference embraced the themes of Materials, Environmental and Digital Research. We were particularly keen to attract presentations focusing on collaborative work between academia and heritage institutions, as can be appreciated in the Book of Abstracts.

We are also pleased with the enthusiastic response by commercial exhibitors and are grateful for their support. Please visit the Exhibitor Website.

Further Information:

Conference Programme
Commercial Exhibitors
Conference Committees

Keynote Speakers

Steve Trow Dr Steve Trow, Director of Heritage Protection, Historic England

“Science, society, stories and impact: Historic England and heritage science”

Steve is an Executive Director of Historic England, which came into being on 1st April 2015. He joined its predecessor English Heritage in 1987 and has subsequently worked in its designation, casework and policy departments before becoming Director of Heritage Protection, with responsibility for research.

Steve trained as an archaeologist with research interests in the Roman period. Before joining English Heritage, he worked for the Museum of London and The British Museum.

Keynote Abstract
This paper will consider the role of science and technology within Historic England, the government’s statutory advisor on the historic environment in England. It will consider the degree to which science has influenced both policy and the public presentation of heritage and consider how a government agency and the higher education sector can work together more closely.

Sean O'ReillyDr Seán O’Reilly, Director, The Institute of Historic Building Conservation

“Interdisciplinary skills and standards in sustainable conservation: achievements and challenges in the practices and sciences of place-based conservation”

Dr Seán O’Reilly is director and chief executive officer of The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), the UK’s professional body for built and historic environment conservation specialists. Previously the Director and CEO of The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, before that he operated his conservation consultancy in Ireland, where he also published and lectured extensively in his primary discipline, architectural history. Now with a degree in planning, Dr O’Reilly helps shape professional standards and services in UK conservation policy, planning and legislation. Recent board positions include The National Heritage Training Group, and Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS),of which he is a co-founder, while he is also a trustee of the newly re-constituted Council on Training in Architectural Conservation (COTAC).

Keynote Abstract
The presentation will offer a review of current built and historic environment conservation practice. This will include consideration of priorities for progress in the discipline and its principles, both for public and private sectors, as well as suggestions on how these might be approached.  

Nancy BellNancy Bell, Head of Collection Care, The National Archives, UK, Co-Chair, The National Heritage Science Forum

“Evidence, Persuasion and Policy in Heritage Science”

Nancy Bell is Head of Collection Care for The National Archives.  Prior to taking up this post, she headed TNA’s Research and Development team that was responsible for the developing and delivering an integrated research programmes across several academic disciplines. In recent years, she has led research projects in collaboration with the leading universities and cultural heritage organisations, has served or research advisory boards and award granting bodies. She is currently co-chair of the National Heritage Science Forum.

She graduated from the University of Maryland and worked for 12 years in Oxford where she established the Oxford Conservation Consortium, a unique co-operative facility to provide conservation and preservation services for the Oxford’s collections. She has taught conservation in the UK and Canada and has published and lectured in this field.  She continues to advocate on behalf of the role of heritage science research to enable better preservation, interpretation and access to cultural heritage collections.

Keynote Abstract
Using research-informed evidence is increasingly recognised in institutions and governments as a necessary if not vital element of decision making, policy formation, influencing and advocacy. In this context heritage science has much to contribute to wider social and political challenges, so evidence gathering and reporting is critical if we are to contribute meaningfully to these debates and others relating to the preservation, interpretation and access to cultural heritage. This paper will briefly examine the nature of research-informed evidence, and its use through various pipelines of communication, and policy formation. Through examples I will argue the imperative for evidence 



The conference was a joint event of SEAHA, the EU FP7 Marie-Curie Action Project: Initial Training Network on Digital Cultural Heritage (ITN-DCH) and of the Heritage Consortium.
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The SEAHA conference was organised with endorsement by the National Heritage Science Forum.

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