Iron corrosion and stone decay: past, present and future:


In recent years, Blenheim Palace has suffered from episodes of stone falling from the facades, often related to damage caused by the corrosion of iron embedded in the masonry. KHI has brought together engineering, environmental and heritage science researchers, historians and built heritage professionals in order to investigate the feasibility of developing a data-informed digital twin to help predict the biggest risks of falling stone. Could engineering science help understand the rate of corrosion and develop non-invasive techniques to monitor corrosion-induced stresses on the stonework? Can environmental scientists deploy non-invasive monitoring methods to provide real-time information on the environmental conditions at particularly sensitive locations, helping to predict risk? Can historical researchers collate and digitize valuable records from the Palace’s archives in order to provide contextual information about the history of different parts of the fabric? These are the questions we are currently investigating.


All of the demonstration projects KHI is running at Blenheim address the palace’s desire to make enhanced data-assisted decisions about the management of current and future restoration works concerning stone health. It is the ultimate goal of our collaboration to produce a dynamic digital twin and relational database that not only integrates the microclimatic and stone typology profiles produced through the lichen and iron cramp projects, but to further collate those outputs with archival information about the history of restoration work at the palace.