On the 18th of June a team of researchers from the Oxford Rock Breakdown Laboratory (OxRBL) were invited to Wolvercote Village Hall in north Oxford to discuss research relevant to the historically significant Scheduled Monument of Godstow Abbey/Nunnery. The evening event was hosted by the Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum with introductions from Christopher Hardman and Graham Jones, and kicked off two weeks of celebrations as part of the Wolvercote Midsummer Festival.

The first half of the evening was devoted to the history and archaeology of Godstow Abbey, with an informative talk by Dr Eleanor Standley from the University's School of Archaeology and the Ashmolean Museum. Eleanor outlined the long and chequered history of the site, its fascinating artefacts held at the Ashmolean Museum, and the significant potential for further archaeological research.

The second half of the evening focused on OxRBL research, giving the opportunity for members of the public to see and try-out a range of equipment used to assess the condition of vulnerable stonework and historic masonry. Dr Martin Coombes outlined novel ways of investigating ruined sites including Ground Penetrating Radar and aerial survey using drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). Prof Heather Viles demonstrated the importance of moisture detection in stone as well as the influences (both good and bad) of vegetation growing on historic walls, directly relevant to work on soft-capping being trialled at the Godstow site in collaboration with Historic England.

Dr Martin Coombes discusses the use of a drone in investigating ruined sites

Dr Martin Coombes discusses the use of a drone in investigating ruined sites

Prof Heather Viles discusses her work on soft-capping at Godstow Abbey/Nunnery

Prof Heather Viles discusses her work on soft-capping at Godstow Abbey/Nunnery

The evening proved a great success, with the hall filled with more than 60 enthusiastic and knowledgeable local people.

Further information

This event formed part of the Godstow Abbey Knowledge Exchange, an on-going collaboration between the University of Oxford and Wolvercote Neighbourhood Forum. The project seeks to build and enhance links between the University of Oxford and the local community, focussing on conservation and public outreach at Godstow Abbey. Future planned activities include object handling sessions at the Ashmolean Museum and installation of the first ever public information boards at the site. For more details please contact . More information about Godstow Nunnery/Abbey can be found on the Ashmolean Museum's website.