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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

All Research Projects

Publication details

Rimmer, M.B. & Caple, C. (2008), Estimating Artefact Loss: A comparison of metal artefact loss rates through in situ decay and loss of ancient monument sites in England, in Kars, H. & van Heeringen, R.M. eds, Geoarchaeological and Bioarchaeological Studies 10 10: 3rd Conference on Preserving archaeological remains in situ. Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Amsterdam, 65-73.

Author(s) from Durham


Using data from the 1995 Monuments at Risk Survey of England (MARS) (Darvill & Fulton 1998) and estimates of artefact densities from published excavation reports, it has been possible to calculate the number of metal (iron and copper alloy) objects buried in ancient monuments (archaeological sites with discernible physical presence in the landscape, though not necessarily legally protected i.e. scheduled) in England. MARS data also enabled the loss rate of objects due to monument destruction to be calculated. The loss of objects due to corrosion was calculated using estimates based on published data of object size and corrosion rate. These figures indicate that between 1945 and 1995 object loss through monument destruction was three times that of corrosion. The appreciable rates of metal object loss (19 million objects per annum) demonstrate that not all metal artefacts, which are buried in-situ, are preserved.

Department of Archaeology

Scottish Soldiers Project

Cooperating with the Palace Museum in China