I am a trainee Archive Conservator based at Lancashire Archives in Preston, currently working to achieve the Archives and Records Association’s Certificate in Archive Conservation. As part of the course I must undertake a series of placements, each focusing on the conservation of materials regularly encountered in a record office. I’m here at Norwich for my four week Parchment placement with Archive Conservator Antoinette Curtis, learning current practices in the conservation of weak and damaged parchment.
Presently we are working on a map of Swanton Morley with Worthing dating to 1755. It is likely that the map was stored in damp conditions and mishandled prior to its arrival at Norfolk Record Office. As such, the parchment has cockled and is torn in multiple places along the edges. To remedy this damage and to prevent further deterioration, I am learning to conserve the item using techniques and materials that are sympathetic to the original and which will ensure its longevity. Amongst other skills, I have learnt how to locally hydrate parchment in a safe and controlled manner in preparation for conservation, to pare repair parchment, and to apply repairs using gelatine mousse as an adhesive. In other projects I have gained experience of removing surface dirt from parchment, testing for fugitive inks, and creating bespoke display cases for parchment items with pendant seals.
The skills developed during this placement are essential to my successful completion of the course and will enable me to conserve parchment items at Lancashire Archives with knowledge, understanding and confidence.