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Dr Melanie Rimmer 

  • Overview
Melanie Rimmer
Position:PhD Student

Academic History

I completed my BSc degree in Natural Sciences (Archaeology and Anthropology) at the University of Durham in 2006. My BSc dissertation modelled the rate of loss of archaeological artefacts from monument damage and in-situ decay (see Rimmer & Caple (forthcoming)). I went on to the University of Reading, where I received NERC funding to study an MSc in Geoarchaeology, which I completed with distinction in 2007. For my Masters research I was fortunate to take part in the recent excavation and conservation of Silbury Hill. My work focused on the buried soil under Silbury Hill and the conditions leading to the preservation of organic materials. In October 2007 I began PhD research at Cardiff University under the supervision of David Watkinson, focusing on conservation treatments for the post-excavation corrosion of archaeological iron. This work is funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the British Museum, London, where I will be working during 2009 under the supervision of Dr Quanyu Wang.

Research Interests

  • Corrosion of archaeological iron
  • Conservation of archaeological materials
  • Preservation of archaeology in situ
  • The relationship between soil conditions and preservation
  • The value of archaeological heritage and its management

Outline of PhD Research - passed June 2010

Working title: Investigating the treatment and storage of chloride-infested archaeological iron

The survival of archaeological iron as a cultural heritage resource remains in doubt, despite considerable research into its corrosion, treatment and storage. There is no quantified clear guidance available to conservators regarding preservation of iron other than for low humidity or inert gas storage. A number of treatments exist which intend to remove chloride, a significant corrosion accelerator, from artifacts. However, none of these treatments has been sufficiently researched to fully assess its impact on the continued corrosion of iron.

My PhD research will link the quantitatively measured effectiveness of chloride-removal treatments with the pre- and post-treatment corrosion rate of individual artifacts. This will allow me to investigate the extent to which removing chlorides from artifacts slows their corrosion rate and influences their long-term storage requirements. The research will focus on alkaline sulphite and deoxygenated sodium hydroxide treatments. I will also assess the risk of damage to artifacts both during treatment and from post-treatment residues, allowing conservators to make more informed decisions regarding the role of desalination treatments in conservation.


Rimmer, M.B. & Caple, C. (2008) Estimating artefact loss: A comparison of metal artefact loss rates through in situ decay and loss of ancient monument sites in England, in Kars, H & van Heeringen, R.M., Preserving archaeological remains in situ: Proceedings of the 3rd conference, 7-9 December 2006, Amsterdam, (Geoarchaeological and Bioarchaeological Studies Volume 10), Amsterdam: Institute for Geo- and Bio-archaeology, VU University, p. 65-73.