May 30, 2019

It's been a busy few months at Minerva with the usual mix of repairs to abbey ruins, church towers and bridges, we are particularly looking forward to the upcoming project of conserving the medieval market cross at Castle Coombe and its protective roof structure (below, left).

NEWS. We are all excited that SPAB Fellow, the stonemason and conservator Samantha Peacock has returned to Minerva after a while working as a glass conservator at Holywell Glass in Wells. Sam will be running our site based projects on a day to day basis.

Andrew Ziminski has been appointed by the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam - Bishop of Salisbury, as consultant to the Salisbury Diocesan Advisory Committee for the conservation of stonework and monuments.

As well as our usual lecture at the SPAB Spring repair course we have been busy giving other talks and demonstrations, such as at the SPAB's Old house show at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich as well as at St Pauls Cathedral during London Craft Week as a warm up to the release of our Book in March 2020.

WORK. Shepton Montague PCC are really pleased with the results of our tower conservation project near Bruton, Somerset. We used Pozzolana gauged lime putty mortars through the cold snap without failures. The red stonework was badly fractured after the result of a fire in 1964, and repaired with colour matched mortars created brilliantly by Nell Pickering. This job also had a new roof covering and lightning conductor.

Jeremy - the churchwarden wrote that "The attention to the detail of stone repair and selection of the right mortar; colour and consistency is truly inspiring. All the crew I have met are keen and enthusiastic about the job they are doing".

This Spring we finished works conserving the perilous Romanesque ruins of Bindon Abbey, near Wareham, Dorset - an 'at risk' site. Here, we grouted, tile repaired, repointed and rebuilt - after recording - much of the high parts of the freestanding ruin of the West Front. We then introduced a new turf caping to protect the core.

Below - Sharra training the estate staff in the principles of building conservation, here they are learning about turf capping.

St Pauls Cathedral Lecture.

Compliments on our work to Reybridge, Laycock over the summer of 2018

Sep 11, 2018

We were very pleased to receive this message from a local resident after completing our large project this summer at Reybridge near Laycock, Wiltshire.

Bridge Masonry repair Kennet and Avon Canal.

Jun 17, 2018

This spring we were called to repair damage caused by at drunk driver that had crashed through the parapet of bridge 107 in Bradford on Avon.

It was a difficult project in a confined space as the lock had to remain in use and the road stay open.

Nell Pickering-Letter cutting into stone, sculpture and conservation

Jun 17, 2018

Nell Pickering - Letters cut by hand into stone and sculptor.

Nell is available for design work and commissions to suit the requirements of her clients.

Nell works in the traditional manner, setting out with with pencil and paper and cutting letters with mallet and chisels.

Call me on 07867336148



Conserving 'the three ancient goddesses of fate, the Parcae '

Mar 12, 2018

We recently conserved this remarkable sculpted block, found in Calne, Wiltshire that may have come from a substantial and important Roman funerary monument.

It was identified by The Reverend Professor Martin Henig as depicting the three ancient goddesses of fate, the Parcae, a subject thought unique in Roman Britain and rare in Northern Europe.

When found, the face was covered in organic matter, which had been damaging the stone. By a variety of gentle means we slowly removed the moss and algae - the roots of which were tenacious and not easy to deal with. The stone substrate was quite friable in places, so the removal of too much organic material would be detrimental to the surface.

It is now on display in the Roman Gallery of Wiltshire museum. The moss removal revealed a series of drilled holes along the topmost margin where there is also the faint suggestion of a inscription.

The stone has been recorded by Tony Hack to bring out the detail in the carving and possible inscription and to further allow the interpretation of the figures shown on the stone. Some of this work in 3D is available to view here.

We wondered (incorrectly) if the figure on the left was Hercules. There may have been faded inscription along the top margin but the only letters we could make out for certain were an ‘I' and a ‘V’ slightly to the left of the central figure. The margin had been drilled at regular intervals all the way round and one of the drill holes has a small nail or what may be a broken drill bit in it. There is a small amount of lime mortar on the right cheek that suggests that it was once fixed to a neighbouring stone.

During a gathering to discuss the piece, The Reverend Professor Martin Henig concluded that the block displayed three standing female deities, mother goddesses known as the Fates, or the Parcae. Their individual names are (left to right:) Lachesis who measured the thread of life, seen with her measure over her shoulder, Klotho, who span the thread of life on her spindle, but here carries scales and holding a scroll, Atropos who cut life's thread and chose the way a person would die. The thick thread can be clearly seen to be held by the right hand figures.The Parcae controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal and immortal from birth to death. Even the gods feared the Parcae. Jupiter also was subject to their power.

Above Photo courtesy of Mr Tony Hack.

The Reverend Professor Martin Henig commences the conservation of the block.