Materials research and analysis has been a core activity since 1997, focused on understanding the deterioration and methods of preserving the historic fabric of architecturally and archaeologically significant buildings and monuments.

The knowledge of stone, brick mortar, plaster and render types and how they deteriorate has been gathered through primary research funded by government bodies and third level institutions, as well as research studies commissioned by architects, engineers, archaeologists and building owners to address the deterioration of historic buildings, archaeological monuments, ruined structures and finds from archaeological excavations. Work undertaken since 1997 includes:

  • Identification, Characterisation and Matching of Stone, Brick, Terracotta, Mortars and Plasters
  • Diagnosis of Historic Building Material Failures (e.g. stone decay, staining, weathering, past cleaning treatments)
  • Studies of Provenance, Technology and Dating of Archaeological Building Materials
  • Primary Research funded by Government Bodies into the Nature, Origin and Deterioration of Stone, Brick and Mortar
  • Testing of Conservation Techniques for Cleaning, Consolidation, Stone Treatments, Biocides and Repointing
  • Recommendations for Conservation & Preparation of Specifications
  • Design of Replica and Improved Mortars and Plasters

Stone analysis decay

Relevant Publications


Pavía, S, & Bolton, J. (2001) Stone Monuments Decay Study 2000: Assessment of the degree of erosion and degradation of stone monuments in the Republic of Ireland. Kilkenny. The Heritage Council

Pavía, S, & Bolton, J. (2000) Stone Brick and Mortar: Historical Use, Decay and Conservation of Building Materials in Ireland.Bray. Wordwell Books


Bolton, J. (2016, forthcoming) “Granite and marine salt weathering anomalies from submerged, inter-tidal and coastal archaeological monuments in Ireland”, Proceedings of the 13th International Congress on the Deterioration and Conservation of Stone, Paisley, Scotland
Bolton, J. (2012) “Ever decreasing circles: the implications of climate change for the deterioration of coastal archaeological monuments”. In IKUWA 3: Beyond Boundaries. Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Underwater Archaeology, University College London, 10-12 July 2008. Frankfurt. Roman-Germanic Commission of the German Archaeological Institute.  Pp.143-150
Bolton, J. (2010) “Carved stone in Romanesque Ireland: use, decay and conservation”, 7th International Conference on Science and Technology in Archaeology and Conservation Workshop on Documentation and Conservation of Stone deterioration in Heritage Places Petra, Jordan, December 7 to 12, 2010.
Bolton, J. (2010) “Irish Medieval Mortars: Implications for the formulation of new replacement mortars”, 2nd Historic Mortars Conference & RILEM TC 203-RHM Repair Mortars for Historic Buildings, Prague, 22-24 September 2010. Czech Republic. Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics & RILEM. Pp.19-28

17th century brick and limestone