You are here:  > 

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

Archaeology

March 2011

Conservation of Roman Armour

Posted by John Rowlands on 24 March 2011

[image: Location of Isca]

Location of Isca

[image: Room containing Roman armour in-situ, in bottom right quarter (photograph courtesy of Dr. Peter Guest). ]

Room containing Roman armour in-situ, in bottom right quarter (photograph courtesy of Dr. Peter Guest).

[image: Excavated curved armour (photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).]

Excavated curved armour (photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).

[image: The largest collection of artefacts wrapped in Clingfilm. Tissue paper has been used to protect some of the most fragile pieces (Photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).]

The largest collection of artefacts wrapped in Clingfilm. Tissue paper has been used to protect some of the most fragile pieces (Photograph courtesy of Mark Lewis).

» View full post to see all images

Archaeologists from University College London and Cardiff University have been excavating remains of Isca, the Second Augustan Legion’s permanent fortress, since 2007. The area excavated has centrered on a building in Priory Field, located in modern day Caerleon, South Wales.   

 

Excavations in summer 2010 focused on an area of a courtyard building, with evidence to suggest it was a warehouse. A room in this building revealed some very exciting finds: the apparent remains of Roman body armour, ‘lorica segmentata’.

 

Archaeologists spent days carefully exposing these rare finds, which seem to have been thrown haphazardly on the floor of the warehouse.

 

These fragile artefacts were then carefully removed by conservators from the National Museum of Wales. The exposed objects were wrapped in Clingfilm, to prevent them from being contaminated by the materials used to support them.

 

Plaster of Paris bandages, similar to those used in hospitals, were very useful for holding these soil blocks together, and preventing damage to the artefacts whilst in transit.

 

Once the plaster had set, the team undercut the plaster blocks: this was a tense moment, as the archaeologists did not want to cut through any material that they could not see.

 

Supporting the artefacts with robust materials meant that they could be driven back to the National Museum at Cathay’s park safely. There they will be re-opened and carefully micro-excavated in the conservation laboratory.

 

The largest of the blocks removed measures about a metre squared, and had to be carried into the museum by 6 men, given its weight.

 

Progress of the investigation of this block will be recorded here.

  • National Museum Cardiff

    [image: National Museum Cardiff]

    Discover art, natural history and geology. With a busy programme of exhibitions and events, we have something to amaze everyone, whatever your interest – and admission is free!

  • St Fagans National History Museum

    [image: St Fagans]

    St Fagans is one of Europe's foremost open-air museums and Wales's most popular heritage attraction.

  • Big Pit National Coal Museum

    [image: Big Pit]

    Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out.

  • National Wool Museum

    [image: National Wool Museum]

    Located in the historic former Cambrian Mills, the Museum is a special place with a spellbinding story to tell.

  • National Roman Legion Museum

    [image: National Roman Legion Museum]

    In AD 75, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon that would guard the region for over 200 years. Today at the National Roman Legion Museum you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them.

  • National Slate Museum

    [image: National Slate Museum]

    The National Slate Museum offers a day full of enjoyment and education in a dramatically beautiful landscape on the shores of Llyn Padarn.

  • National Waterfront Museum

    [image: National Waterfront Museum]

    The National Waterfront Museum at Swansea tells the story of industry and innovation in Wales, now and over the last 300 years.

  • Rhagor: Explore our collections

    Rhagor (Welsh for ‘more’) offers unprecedented access to the amazing stories that lie behind our collections.