Historic monuments are a valuable asset and provide information on man's past activities. They also provide the engineering geologist with useful guidance on rates of weathering. Man has, at a known time, taken rocks from the ground and combined them with other building materials such as mortars and renders. All of these materials have been exposed to weathering, which is now well advanced in some stones or structures. The work of the conservation bodies records, inter alia, the present status of the weathering process.
The photographs were all taken at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon in Yorkshire. The Abbey was founded in 1132 but has been without a roof or windows since the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Some remarkable contrasts in weathering are apparent. The severe weathering shown in Fig. 4 is probably related to winds coming in through the large open East window; conversely the render and limewash seen in Fig. 7 is still in very good condition after over 400 years of exposure, albeit in a less exposed location. The records of such a building provide documentation on rates of weathering in engineering time, and also provide insights into the effect of various processes on a range of different materials.
The obligation to record historic monuments satisfies a number of criteria. The survey produced is known as an ‘as found’ record of the building, i.e. its appearance before works take place. This can be used as a record of archive standard and also as the base for detailing