The Leverhulme Trust have awarded a £262k grant for a project led by Dr Serena Corr titled “Multifunctional magnetic nanocomposites for artefact conservation”. This project, in collaboration with Dr Eleanor Schofield at the Mary Rose Trust and Professor Rachel O’Reilly at Warwick University, will use smart nanocomposite materials to treat waterlogged wood from Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose.
Salvaged in 1982, the Mary Rose provided an unprecedented insight into Tudor society and technology. Whilst buried under the seabed, she became embedded with iron sulfides (through reaction of H2S formed by sulfur-reducing bacteria and iron ions from corroded fixtures). Although stable in low-oxygen environments, sulfur rapidly oxidises in the presence of iron under atmospheric conditions to form destructive acid. This research will use polymer-functionalised magnetic nanoparticles to target and completely remove these harmful compounds from the wood structure. Once successful, this approach could also be applied to some of the 19,000 artefacts recovered from the Mary Rose.