Eleanor Schofield is Conservation Manager at the Mary Rose Trust. It’s her job to find ways of monitoring the ship as it dries, and Diamond’s B18 is a powerful tool for helping her to keep a close eye on things. One of Diamond’s spectroscopy beamlines, B18 supports a technique called X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). Different elements fluoresce when exposed to X-ray light, so by exposing slivers of timbers from the Mary Rose to the beam, Eleanor can determine exactly what elements are present and their form. This helps her to monitor levels of sulphur in the drying wood, and to spot any potential oxidation and resulting acid build up as the ship dries.
“Time at Diamond is crucial to monitoring the progress of the ship”, Eleanor observes. “People often ask me what science has to do with the Mary Rose; the answer is ‘everything’! Facilities like Diamond allow us to find ways of conserving ancient artefacts – we need the detail Diamond offers because this process often starts at the cellular and molecular level. Science is a vital part of conservation, and it’s great to know that we’re playing our part in preserving our cultural heritage.”
Relics like the Mary Rose help us to understand and connect with history. And yet, sometimes it is only with cutting-edge machines like Diamond that we can keep that cultural heritage alive. Eleanor and the Mary Rose Trust have been hugely successful in preserving this important slice of history, and their ongoing work demonstrates that whilst Diamond undoubtedly brings the future closer, it also allows us to protect our past.
To see the ship up close, why not visit the Mary Rose museum? Details here: www.maryrose.org