Heritage science research and development

Our heritage science research programme is delivered within the framework of The National Archives’ research strategy and contributes to the overall aim of sustainable stewardship of the collection.

Research strategy (PDF, 0.05 MB)

Our primary aim is to deliver practical outcomes that will lead to a better understanding of how to preserve the UK’s archival heritage, within the context of a national research agenda.

You can download our Heritage science research strategy below:

Conservation research strategy (PDF, 0.04 MB)

Our research programme helps us predict the long-term stability of The National Archives’ holdings by increasing understanding of:

  • the materials used to create records
  • degradation processes
  • the steps required to mitigate deterioration
  • the relationship of materials to the environment in which they are stored and handled

Beeswax is a versatile, chemically stable yet physically fragile material used by humans for practical purposes and cultural practices for millennia.

Analysis, characterisation and conservation of early, rare photographic processes The Designs Registers, part of the Board of Trade (BT) series, contain almost three million British patterns, designs and trademarks from 1839 until 1991.

This joint collaborative project with the IMC Group aims to develop software that incorporates expert knowledge within a diagnostic tool.

Watermarks are images imprinted in paper that appear lighter when viewed in transmitted light, as they are thinner and therefore more transparent areas in the bulk of the sheet.

In 1765 Samuel Holland created the first truly modern and accurate map of Prince Edward Island, Canada, which had a considerable impact on the island - one that continues to this day.

Dust can speed up the chemical processes that lead to chemical deterioration of heritage collections, and makes them dirty.

Transparent papers are well represented in The National Archives given the transparent quality of the paper was the perfect medium for drawing maps, designs, and engineering plans.

A team of leading academic and cultural institutions has published a report explaining that a new working culture and a longer-term approach to funding, which reflects the changing landscape of heritage science, is essential for delivering research with greater impact.