Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Fired earth conservation

Get to grips with fired earth in traditional buildings. Learn about its uses, properties, weathering and decay processes, and conservation and repair techniques.



Download a prospectus for more information on the diploma and short courses.

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3 weeks

Study time


Self-study:30 hours


As a stand-alone short course:£330

A traditional brick building

Fired earth products have been used in Scotland’s historic environment since the Roman era. Explore the use of brick, tiles and terracotta products in traditional Scottish structures on this short course including:

  • external walls
  • engineered structures
  • roofing pantiles
  • chimney pots
  • ridge coverings
  • glazed clay products such as faience and ceramic wall
  • floor tiles

What you'll learn 

Gain a broad overview of the geology and mineralogy of brick clays, fire clays and associated earth products. Learn about their material characteristics and the development of industrial production.

You'll discover the fundamental physical properties of fired earth building products with our experts, including weathering and decay processes and the effects of man-made wear or damage.

Our expert tutors will take you through current conservation repair principles and process. This will including learning the means and methods for carrying out repairs.

You'll experience the full process from initial survey and diagnosis, specification and procurement, and on-site installation – all in accordance to established standards of best practice.

Topics covered

  • Origins of the Material and Scottish Traditions
  • Historic brick manufacturing in Scotland
  • Traditional brickwork
  • Terracotta, faience and cast stone
  • Tiles
  • Decay Mechanisms
  • Repair & Conservation
  • Techniques
  • Specifying Repairs
  • Health & Safety Issues

Course content




Classes, lectures and presentations

This course is taught by national and international experts, through a mixture of lectures, hands-on experience, and site visits.

Potential site visits

Final site visits for 2019 are still to be confirmed, but past visits have included: Doulton Fountain, Bain Street Pipe factory, Templeton Carpet Factory, Stevenson & Tobago Street warehouses (Glasgow); Hayford Mills, Cambusbarron; Dunblane railway viaduct.


Short courses are not formally assessed. Students will be awarded a certificate upon successfully completing this course. Anyone looking for a formal qualification can study our full diploma course or separate units.

What our students say