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Heritage and Science: Working Together in the CARE of Rock Art

12 Jun 2013
Bradshaw Foundation
Article

Ancient rock art is under threat due to climate change, and a project has been launched to develop methods to enable everyone to contribute to its protection. The CARE project is a collaboration between heritage and science research interests at Newcastle University and Queen's University Belfast. Its primary objective is to co-produce a user-friendly, non-intrusive Condition Assessment Risk Evaluation (CARE) toolkit for gathering and organising information essential for the long-term safeguarding of ancient rock art that exists out in the open.

Rock Art Petroglyphs Heritage Science Research Newcastle University Queen's University Belfast

Heritage and science working together ensures that heritage management resources and techniques are underpinned by solid scientific research so that conservation and management approaches are more effective. In the case of open-air rock art, or possibly any open-air stone structure, this means that the rock can be analysed in order to discern those environmental factors that are the cause of decay, as well as the influence of factors such as climate change. 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.

These scientific insights into the risk factors for open air rock art will under pin the materials produced by the project. They will 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 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.

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. 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 confront the challenges of the 21st century.

An initial workshop is being held on 29th June in Northumberland, UK for rock art enthusiasts.

http://research.ncl.ac.uk/heritagescience/

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