Tag Archives: partnership

Making Heritage Science Data FAIR and Impactful seminar: a review

Heritage Scientist Natalie Brown attended the Making Heritage Science Data FAIR and Impactful seminar recently organised by E-RIHS UK, along with the ICON Heritage Science Group (HSG) and National Heritage Science Forum (NHSF). Here’s her review:

As a heritage scientist I collect and use data on a daily basis; whether it’s documenting objects, collecting and analysing scientific data, or integrating data collected by others. However, like many other researchers, I have sometimes underestimated the value of my data to wider audiences. The Making Heritage Science Data FAIR and Impactful seminar was a good opportunity both for me to better understand my data, and an occasion to meet other heritage scientists and find out how they collect, use and manage data.

Professor May Cassar, director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage and UK national coordinator of E-RIHS, kicked the day off by introducing the organisers and highlighted why this kind of seminar is so important for the heritage community. All three organisations engage individually with professionals around data and use, for example, one of the main streams of E-RIHS is digital data and FAIR principles is a core concept within the research infrastructure. ICON HSG aims to support access to heritage science data and improve dialogue between Heritage Scientists and related professionals to develop best practices, as we have recently seen with the ethical sampling guide and NHSF has recently published a national Strategic Framework for Heritage Science. As such, it was motivating to see the three organisers coming together to build a stronger, integrated heritage science community.

The day began with a series of presentations, followed by an expert round table, and tours of the new technology applied by heritage researchers at UCL. From the presentations, participants gained greater understanding of differing types of heritage science data and how FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) can be applied to them. There were also animated discussions about ‘born digital’ data, ‘big data’ projects, and the economic power of data.

The first session explored what heritage science data is and how different institutions collect, manage and store it. Three case studies were presented; Fishbourne Roman Palace (presented by Rob Symmons), ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Science & Technology Facilities Council (presented by Antonella Scherillo), and Historic England (presented by Paul Bryan). Each presenter drew from their own experiences and it was beneficial to hear about the range of techniques currently being used for various types of data and different organisational infrastructures. Although FAIR principles are being used in heritage science, it was clear from the presentations that it is tied to an institution’s capabilities.

The second session focused on dissemination and impact. Tim Evans from Archaeological Data Service (ADS) discussed how ADS make their resources available through their online catalogue, as well as wider issues around data access and how we can improve this – something that E-RIHS is hoping to achieve through their DIGILAB platform. Sara Gould (British Library) and Luigi Galimeberti (Tate) continued the session, discussing their project to create a shared research repository showcasing the multidisciplinary research conducted by organisations; to monitor and evaluate the impact of the research across organisations; and play a fundamental role in centralising, preserving and making research accessible. Currently the project is in its pilot phase but it could offer an exciting opportunity for professionals to instigate FAIR principles across UK organisations. Maja Maricevic (British Library) brought the presentations to a close with a thought-provoking presentation about heritage data’s economic impact and the opportunities and challenges heritage organisations face when dealing with large amounts of data.

The seminar concluded with a round table discussion. Experts debated larger questions, such as changing technologies; the political landscape, and how this will affect FAIR principles; data ethics; how to best share data between institutions; and policy creation. They also discussed with the audience issues around resources and funding, data transfer, storage and how to disseminate data online. While not all the questions could be fully addressed by the panel, it was a great opportunity to start wider conversations about impact and FAIR heritage data.

ICCROM and E-RIHS signed a statement of cooperation

The European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science will have more and easier access to a game-changing global expertise, thanks to a newly announced partnership. On 6. September at the Interim E-RIHS PP meeting in Warsaw, Luca Pezzatti, the E-RIHS PP coordinator, signed the letter of cooperation with Webber Ndoro, Director – General of International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM). In the presence of Alison Heritage, ICCROM’s Heritage Science Officer, E-RIHS has sealed the first partnership with a renowned global heritage organisation.

The event took place in the state-of-the-art Biological and Chemical Research Centre at Warsaw University (CNBCh UW), a research facility located on the “Ochota” Campus. The CNBCh UW is dedicated to scientists conducting advanced research in the development of new technologies in the fields of cultural heritage, environmental conservation and new materials.

Luca Pezzatti, E-RIHS PP coordinator, and Alison Heritage, ICCROM’s Heritage Science Officer, finalising the signing of the statement during the E-RIHS PP meeting in Warsaw

Established in 1956, ICCROM works to promote the conservation of all forms of cultural heritage across the world. With a membership of 136 Member States, it supports those working on the front lines of heritage preservation, including scientists, conservators, museum curators, site managers, archivists, researchers and archaeologists through world-class initiatives in conservation training, information, research, cooperation and advocacy. For more information about ICCROM, see here.

This unique partnership will put a strong  emphasis on advocacy, training and capacity building, knowledge exchange, impact enhancement and institutional relationships. As the partners stated, “effective and ongoing global cooperation between countries, institutions, and stakeholders is fundamental for the sustainable conservation of cultural heritage. A key aspect of such cooperation is the advancement of conservation practice and capacities worldwide through shared access to up to date knowledge, tools and training. To this end heritage science, as a provider of knowledge and tools is a vital resource of
global importance for cultural heritage conservation.” For full text of the Statement of Cooperation between ICCROM & E-RIHS see here.

The UK hub is particularly keen on working with ICCROM on training and capacity building. ICCROM has an international reputation for developing innovative educational programmes, tools and materials for conservation and restoration, and organising professional training activities around the world. The partnership aims to establish joint “development and delivery of diverse
training opportunities to enable transdisciplinary working within heritage science”. The E-RIHS Training Academy, led by UCL, one of the UK hub members, will hugely benefit from the partnership in designing and delivering state of the art training to heritage scientists, research infrastructure managers and users.

The signing of the letter of cooperation demonstrates E-RIHS’s international commitment to strengthening strategic relationships, building global connections and collective capabilities, and establishing the international cooperation to come together to achieve common goals in the protection, conservation and management of cultural heritage. For more information about E-RIHS’s global vision, see here.


‘Preserving the Bits: Digital Preservation within Heritage Science’ lecture by E-RIHS UK Julian Richards (ADS)

On Thursday 19 April, UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, our member organization, hosted a Guest Lecture delivered by Julian Richards, the Director of the Archaeology Data Service at the University of York and our partner in the E-RIHS UK hub. Julian discussed issues of permanent data preservation, as well as the opportunities to provide unparalleled access.

You can watch the talk here.

Archaeology Data Service is the task leader on data curation and data policy of E-RIHS, contributing to the creation of DIGILAB, a pioneering facility providing virtual access to scientific and heritage data from research and heritage institutions. In the UK, the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) has been working for over 20 years to ensure long-term preservation and access to archaeological data. It now disseminates over 1.3 million metadata records to the archaeology of the British Isles, over 45,000 unpublished fieldwork reports, as well as over 1400 rich research archives. All of these are freely available online, and the ADS is working with international partners to promote broader research e-infrastructures for archaeology.

European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science receives kick-start funding

The European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) and its UK part (E-RIHS.uk) supports cross-disciplinary research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management. As the first dedicated infrastructure of its kind, it consists of National Hubs and a Central Hub, supporting fixed and mobile national scientific infrastructures of recognized excellence, physically accessible collections/archives and virtually accessible heritage data.

Professor May Cassar, Director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, which is coordinating E-RIHS.uk, expressed optimism:

This recognition demonstrates the strength of this discipline as well as its strategic importance. Heritage science supports a range of UK sectors, such as museums generating  £1.5Bn p.a. income, while the conservation, repair and maintenance sector in England alone is  estimated at £4.7Bn. The sensors and instrumentation industry, supporting these activities, underpins a wide range of industrial activity with UK Sales amounting to £3Bn.

EU funding enables the 16 participating countries to develop the legal structure and the processes of access to research infrastructure, delivery of training, quality assurance as well as mobilise national heritage science communities.

Dr Ewan Hyslop, Head of Technical Research and Science, Historic Environment Scotland said:

It’s well documented that the effects of climate change present a serious, and increasing threat to heritage in Scotland, and it’s one of our organisation’s highest priorities to lead the sector in researching, understanding and addressing that impact. So today’s announcement comes as a timely and welcome boost.

Although the €4 million being announced today is of course a substantial financial investment, and serves to illustrate the extent of the problem being faced, perhaps the more encouraging aspect of today’s announcement is to see the formal commitment of some of the United Kingdom and Europe’s best and brightest organisations to pooling resources, sharing information and working together to tackle the challenges facing the sector.

The E-RIHS.uk partnership includes The British Museum, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England, Historic Environment Scotland, Cardiff University, Diamond Light Source, ISIS Neutron Source, The National Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, University College London, University of Bradford, University of Brighton and University of York.


The global lead that Europe holds in this research field has so far been supported by a combination of national and EU funding mechanisms, which now requires a collaborative, coordinated effort in order to maintain this lead. E-RIHS Central Hub will be sited in Florence, hosted by the Italian National Research Council and coordinated by Luca Pezzati (www.e-rihs.eu).