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
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.