Hayley Simon’s research project examines the impact of preservation treatments on archaeological iron corrosion. This has been achieved through analysis of a set of over 1,200 cast iron cannonballs from the shipwreck of King Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, which sunk off the coast of Portsmouth on 19th July 1545. Having been produced in bulk, the collection was buried together for over 400 years and their relative uniformity was maintained until excavation between 1979 and 1983. Since excavation, the cannonballs have been treated by a range of conservation methods, primarily aimed at removing chlorine, which can accelerate corrosion. Due to their unique archaeological and conservation history, the collection provides an extraordinary opportunity to investigate the efficacy of different treatment approaches, in a real-world situation that accounts for the complexity of archaeological material. By analysing the collection, we can develop more effective conservation treatments, addressing the long-standing issue of iron corrosion in museums and ensuring that precious artefacts are preserved for the future.
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Hayley is a final year PhD student at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, working on a collaborative project with Diamond Light Source and the Mary Rose Trust. She graduated with an MChem in Chemistry from the University of Warwick in 2015. Her PhD project looks at the corrosion and conservation of the Mary Rose cast iron cannonballs and the application of synchrotron techniques to archaeological material.