Heritage and Science


Heritage and Science: Working together to ensure a solid foundation to conservation


Heritage and science working together ensures that heritage management resources and techniques are underpinned by solid scient‌ific research, which means conservation approaches are more likely to succeed.

In the case of open-air rock art, or indeed any open-air stone structure, this means that we can analyse changes to the rock that are caused by factors such as climate change and develop heritage conservation techniques to mitigate against damage and destruction of finite heritage resources.
‌To this end the CARE project is a collaboration between heritage and science research interests at Newcastle University and Queen's University Belfast. Scientific research has been carried out
‌ to determine the major risk factors for open air rock art and further field work will be undertaken throughout the project's life span to firm up this scientific evidence.


You can see video evidence of the processes we undertook in this section


Translating the Science


Most open-air rock art is on private land and not protected by law. The most effective way that these  heritage resources can be protected for the future is to engage and inspire 

landowners, heritage managers, the public and rock art enthusiasts. This means that the fieldwork can be continuous and management methods implemented at any place or time when they are needed.

The scientific insights into the risk factors for open air rock art must be translated into a simple and practical form that can be used by anyone to aid their management. In order to do this, the project will need to produce a tool kit, to evaluate the rock art's condition, and a management guide, to aid its conservation.

This project will run focus groups, consultations and pilot activities with the key stakeholders, land managers, heritage professionals, rock art enthusiasts and other interested people, in order to co-produce these materials with them. This will take into account their needs, concerns and suggestions and produce a truly valuable tool that can be adapted and used in the UK, Republic of Ireland and other parts of the world.


 ‌You can see video evidence of the processes behind this stage in this section


Science and Heritage: A global movement


The CARE project has close ties with the Science and Heritage Programme, which gives a broader context to this Heritage and Science collaboration.


The Science and Heritage Programme is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is supported by Research Councils UK.

Taking into account the recognised research needs of cultural heritage and a recommendation in the Report of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry on Science and Heritage, its dual purpose is to:

  • build capacity through opportunities for collaboration among disciplines ranging from arts and humanities to science, engineering and technology, and
  • to fund interdisciplinary research and support training of young researchers.

Recent recognition of science and heritage in the UK began in 2004 when London hosted the 6th European Commission conference on Sustaining Europe’s Cultural Heritage:  From Research to Policy. 

In 2007 the 5-year Science and Heritage Programme supported by AHRC and EPSRC was launched. The Science and Heritage Programme is supporting 39 projects or 14% of the 282 projects that bid for funding.  This totals £6,866,771 of investment or 6.5% of over £105 million that was bid to the research councils.  

This programme will provide a locus for those wishing to engage with science and heritage and ensure that knowledge is disseminated widely so that our cultural heritage is in better shape to co

nfront the challenges of the 21st century.