Category Archives: SEAHA event

The latest SEAHA cohort attend Hellens Manor

Kira Zumkley, SEAHA MRes student, recently wrote an article on her blog about the current MRes cohort’s trip to Hellens Manor. The article is reposted here:

Hellens Manor, located in the village of Much Marcle in Herefordshire, is one of the oldest dwellings in England. Owned and administered by the Pennington-Mellor-Munthe Charity Trust, the house is open to the general public and available for educational and cultural activities. As part of its charitable remit, the trust has been working with UCL’s Institute for Sustainable Heritage and students from the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) to improve Hellens’ preservation management strategies and get a better understanding of the house and its collection.

In March 2019 I had the privilege to join the research team at Hellens and interview Justine Peberdy, General Manager at Hellens and Dr Josep Grau-Bove from the University College London.

Justine, could you tell us a little bit about Hellens’ history?

JP: Back in 1057, Earl Harold Godwinson was Lord of Much Marcle which included Hellens Manor. He lost his life shortly after in the battle of Hastings and the house came into the ownership of William the Conqueror. He gave it to his Standard Bearer Walter de Lacey who in turn leased it to French monks who then spent the next decades establishing the church and building a community here. Subsequent to that the house went through various families, partly because there was never a clear male heir that could inherit the house. It came into the Audley family sometime in the 13th century and Isolde, sister of Roger Mortimer married Hugh de Audley when Roger Mortimer was raising an army to unseat Richard II. As part of these events the royal seal was delivered to Hellens Manor to Isabela’s son Edward III, so the house has witnessed some key historic moments. Soon after that the house was recorded as being in ruins in about 1580, and its saving grace was a marriage into a nearby wealthy merchant family. Their daughter came here with a large dowry and much of the house as it stands now was renovated, changed and domesticated, changing it from a fortress on the Welsh boarder to a private house for entertaining. That happened in about 1641. After that there was again no clear line of heritage, which meant that when the houses ownership was in question it managed to avoid periods of renovation and change. So it has remained pretty unchanged since the 17th century.

The house has certainly lived through some very exciting times. It has recently changed from being used as a private home to being open to the public and as part of this change you have started working with the University College London. Could you tell us a bit more about this collaboration?

JP: The trusts remit is to preserve this house and make it available to the public, so the real concentrated learning about the house and keeping very organized archives is quite a recent thing that we started. Hellens is still used as a private home with live-in staff, so it is not like a national trust house that is preserved as a museum, it’s a living breathing house. There are all sorts of additions, either to the furniture or to the paintings or changes to the structure of the house. It’s really only recently that that is being documented and learned about, so we are very much in need of experts to come and look at the fabric of the house, look at the paintings and tell us how this incredible collection came together and how we can look after it in the best possible way.

JGB: We are very lucky to have a good relationship with the trust, especially Adam Munthe as well as Justine and the other members of staff. This helps us to tackle problems that are useful to them. Over the years we have done all sorts of research that helps their preservation management. From studying moisture in the walls, to looking at paintings, studying pest, the influence of light and all the agents of deterioration.

So the work UCL has done has already been beneficial?

JP: Yes, definitely. Primarily it teaches us how to look after what we have here. And it can be very simple measures such as keeping the curtains closed to protect paintings and surfaces from light or changing how we clean things. We have considerable expertise amongst our trustees, but most of the team living at Hellens are not experienced curators or conservators. So we are very fortunate to be working with UCL as their advice on how to best care for and protect Hellens is very valued. Every single recommendation that UCL gives us is acted on and we are very grateful their support.

JGB: The work we have been doing here has not only been beneficial to Hellens Manor but has also been a great experience for our students. They have the opportunity to work in a real historic environment, where their decisions and their research is going to have an impact into the preservation of the collection. In addition, they get to test experimental techniques a little bit outside of the comfort zone of these techniques. The students have to work in conditions that are not ideal, such as a controlled lab environment, and they have to learn how to get the best results regardless.

SEAHA MRes students working hard at Hellens House. Credit: Kira Zumkley |


Photography, Video and Text by Kira Zumkley.

Kira Zumkley is a SEAHA MRes student researching advanced digitisation to support the conservation and interpretation of the Victoria and Albert Museum collection. Studying at the School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Brighton and partnered with the Victoria and Albert museum, she will be investigating advanced digitisation technologies and methods to determine which are most suitable to document, care for and improve the understanding of the objects’ manufacturing and their condition.

Header feature: photograph of Hellens Manor by Kira Zumkley. Credit: Kira Zumkley  |

SEAHA Conference Announced 1-3 April 2019

We are pleased to announce that the 2019 SEAHA Heritage Science Conference will take place 1-3 April 2019 at the University of Oxford. We welcome researchers, academics and heritage professionals to join us in discussing the latest research and issues in cultural heritage conservation.

Delegates will learn from peers via workshops and practical sessions, and experienced academics and practitioners providing valuable insights throughout. In addition to a range of keynote talks and student presentations, this year will feature a range of special interest group led workshops, exploring:

  • Science in the built heritage environment; the interface between technology and historic structures
  • Heritage science on the landscape scale
  • Artificial Intelligence in heritage science; developing new approaches in an emerging field
  • The application of digital imaging techniques to better understand sites and artefacts
  • Innovative approaches to monitoring and managing collections and artefacts

In the last three years, over 400 delegates have attended the SEAHA conferences held in Oxford, Brighton, and London, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Building on the past events, the upcoming conference will provide opportunities to network, learn, collaborate, and gain the insight that will help break down barriers and help push your research, conservation work, or site management further.

If you are an archaeology or heritage professional who works with, or are interested in the uses of scientific investigation in the field, then this is an event not to be missed.

This conference is organised and run by staff and research students at SEAHA, a centre for Doctoral Training funded by the EPSRC which hosts research projects at the University of Brighton, University College London, and the University of Oxford, in the field of Heritage Science.

Save the date and watch this space for further information!

If you have any questions about the event, please get in touch.

Application of new methodology developed from heritage building information modelling to address historic buildings needing maintenance or repair after earthquakes.

Book now: Built Heritage Public Lecture on BIM for earthquake damage

We are pleased to announce that the SEAHA Built Heritage Group and UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage are hosting a public lecture on the 19th September:

ARIM (Assessment Reconstruction Information Modelling): A BIM procedure to prevent and reconstruct earthquakes’ damages – Prof. Tommaso Empler and PhD student Adriana Caldarone, from Sapienza University of Rome.

Book your place here 

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) studies in the Forum of Nerva, Imperial Fora of Rome

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) studies in the Forum of Nerva, Imperial Fora of Rome

Lecture abstract

The Department of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome, with a research unit called “Urban Seismic Risk: Prevention and Reconstruction”, since 2016 is investigating a double BIM (Building Information Modelling) path connected to natural disasters: prevention and reconstruction. The focus is to investigate how small towns (villages) – made up of vernacular buildings – can join a BIM procedure. We are no longer speaking of HBIM (Historic Building Information Modelling), but of ARIM (Assessment Reconstruction Information Modeling). The main topic is linked to “data fusion”, where interdisciplinary skills meet up, ranging from historical sector, to surveying, urban planning, restoration, structures and design. How should data be organised? What are the local regulations? Where – and how – research and the professional world meet each other? These are the topics of a seminar where different cultures and different research fields can be compared to find some common denominators.

The Nervar App, reconstruction of the Imperial Fora of Rome


Prof. Tommaso Empler and PhD student Adriana Caldarone work in the Department of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture (Italian acronym DSDRA) in the Architecture faculty of Sapienza University of Rome. The Department of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture (Italian acronym DSDRA) was established on July 1, 2010 following a structural reorganisation of “Sapienza University of Rome”. Research objectives of the Department focus on: History of Architecture, including the study of historiographic theories and methods, single historical buildings, cities, smaller towns and landscape; Drawing, including representation methods, the history of representation, the latest architectural and territorial representation and survey techniques, graphics, and design; Restoration, including theories and methods of conservative restoration, the elaboration of conservation and restoration projects, the consolidation of surfaces, and structural consolidation.

Interdisciplinary researches topics are ICT, Seismic Risk, BIM-HBIM-ARIM.

Book your place here.

Header image: the ARIM procedure applied to the town of Grisciano (Accumoli). Grisciano is one of the towns that have been heavily damaged by the 2016 earthquake that hit Central Italy.

SEAHA Conference 2018 a Resounding Success

SEAHA Centre for Doctoral Training’s (SEAHA CDT) fourth annual conference, held 4-6th June 2018 in London, was a resounding success. Over three days, over 100 heritage science professionals and students gathered in central London to hear the latest research from our esteemed keynote speakers, a wide selection of podium speakers, and more than 50 research posters.

There was a decidedly international feel to the conference this year, with delegates travelling from as far as China, the United States and the United Arab Emirates. Amongst this diversity of speakers, we challenged our delegates to think outside of their own subject areas and to consider how different disciplines, from architecture to data science, could contribute to the burgeoning cross disciplinary field.

‘The student [organisers] invited guest speakers from various fields some of which on the surface of it don’t have any link to heritage science yet, but it is the vision of our students, and of SEAHA, that these fields will become more and more interesting  in the future [to heritage science] such as data science or crowdsourcing or proteomics and I think that was a phenomenal vision…they’ve done a phenomenal job.’

Prof Matija Strlic

We opened our conference with an overview of how satellites could be used for management of heritage structures (Nicola Masini), then heard about how building information modelling (BIM) traditionally used in architecture and engineering can be applied to heritage sites from Edonis Jesus. After lunch and an opportunity to view the many research posters on display, Baroness Margaret Sharp delivered an important lesson to delegates on how to implement research in policy making decisions, especially in times of austerity and short term thinking.

A SEAHA poster presenter enjoying an ice cream during the break

A SEAHA poster presenter enjoying an ice cream during the break

Following these though-provoking papers, we offered our delegates an insight into the practical side of research, with tours of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage Lab where our students undertake their research and the Conservation and Scientific Research labs at the British Museum.

SEAHA student Mark Kearney demonstrates gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to delegates

SEAHA student Mark Kearney demonstrates gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to delegates

The second day of the conference left no less food for thought, with papers on such topics as how geckos could inspire adhesives for conservation (Jacek Olender), and how metagenomics can yield  biological data to reveal how medieval manuscripts were constructed and used (Matthew Teasdale). Inspiring discussion about the role of the public in research and management of historic objects and sites, delegates also heard how crowdsourcing and participatory research has already been harnessed in a number of papers from Natalie Brown, Rosie Brigham, Paul Wilson and Alessandra Sprega. See the full programme of papers from the conference here.

The final day of the conference focused upon the future of the field. Our keynote came from SEAHA Director Professor May Cassar who explored the idea of a framework for what she termed a ‘heritage science economy’. Borrowing from the Nordic model, Prof Cassar argued for an economy of the field with enterprise at its heart and the creation of a market within which this can flourish.

We concluded SEAHA Conference 2018 with a stimulating roundtable discussion, in collaboration with ICOM-CC, on emerging professionals in the field. On hand to advise finishing SEAHA students and early career researchers were a panel of experts not only from the academic world but also from consultancy, conservation, and UCL Innovation and Enterprise.

Particularly salient advice from the panel how to sell the breadth of training that SEAHA offers its students to organisations, and the recommendation not to be scared of profit!

Science and engineering in arts heritage and archaeology centre for doctoral training student conference committee 2018

SEAHA student conference committee 2018 & SEAHA Centre Manager

SEAHA Conference 2018 was organised by a group of SEAHA students, co-chaired by PhD candidates Yun Liu and Dzhordzhio Naldzhiev. SEAHA would like to extend our thanks to the student committee and to all student volunteers at the event, our exhibitors, and our 2018 sponsors.