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Resource Centre Home > UK Battlefields > Conservation of Battlefield Artefacts > Project Aims & Objectives  
A bullet from the Civil War siege site at Wareham, Dorset - highly decayed probably because of high soil pH.
Project Aims & Objectives
The project has two main research themes that derive directly from current work in conflict archaeology but have a wider remit within conservation science. The three meetings will inform and help to generate policy documents on the following two themes.

Theme 1:
An integrated overview for the survivability of vulnerable metalwork assemblages on pre-Industrial battlefields. While the bulk of methodological development have concentrated on terrain analysis and the recovery of key artefact types using systematic metal detector surveys. Less work has been done on the survivability of vulnerable artefacts, e.g. medieval ferrous arrowheads, while the lead ball and other bullets present on post medieval battlefields are also subject to differential corrosion. Within this context the modelling of burial environments, and specifically the modification of soil groundwater chemistry by agrochemicals is seen as significant.

Theme 2:
Modern battlefield-related assemblages, as typified by assemblages from World War 1 provide distinct challenges to excavators, finds specialists, conservators and curators. In addition to the issues related to identification and handling of un-exploded ordinance, excavations of even short sections of WW1 trench will produce vast quantities of metal artefacts, plus degraded material that ranges from celluloid, through to rubberised cloth. It has been recognised by excavators and finds specialists working with this material that a new set of specially-adapted finds handling/screening and conservation protocols are needed for this material. The long-term aim is to produce a specialist manual [First Aid for Battlefield Finds] although final delivery of this is outside the scope of the initial 12 months funding for this network. The identification of the dead from recent conflicts such as WW1 is still of great interest to families and governments. It has been recognised that while anthropological techniques have a role to play, it is the detailed analysis of kit and personal effects that might narrow down an identification. Identity tags, even when worn were often of sheet aluminium and the development of better techniques such as technical radiography are urgently needed.


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