At York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, scientists and preservation experts are working together to save this historic building from decay and erosion with the help of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.
Researchers co-funded by EPSRC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) at the Universities of York and Cardiff are investigating the composition of the limestone and historic mortars used to build York Minster, and the ways in which these have decayed as a result of weathering and pollution over time. This research is part of the cross-council Science and Heritage Programme.
Researchers are using an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer to explore the limestone in microscopic detail to study the salt deposits and other compounds contained within it that can cause the stone to erode. The work is helping to advise conservation experts how best to treat the stone to prevent further decay and what materials to use in the current restoration of the Minster’s East Front.
Dr Karen Wilson of the University of Cardiff explains the impact of the work: “This work is very important for society because by advising the key people involved in the conservation of such historic buildings we can ensure the survival of these beautiful architectures for future generations.”