Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Conservation of metals

Explore the main issues associated with the manufacture and use of metals in Scotland’s built environment, from wrought and cast iron technology, to bronze and brass.



Download a prospectus for more information on our range of short courses.

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10 weeks


Wednesday 8 January - Wednesday 18 March 2020

Study time

Taught:10 days


As a stand-alone short course:£840


Looking for a related qualification? Learn about our Accredited Diploma that can be taken part-time or full time.

Explore The Diploma
Metal gates on top of a unit in a factory


Gain a historic overview of metals in the built environment. Explore innovations from the medieval period to the 20th century, including early innovations in iron production at Coalbrookdale, and the architectural use of bronze and brass.

What you will learn

  • Learn about the cultural significance of metals and examine the fundamental characteristics and physical properties of ferrous and non-ferrous metals
  • Get a better understanding of matellurgical and corrosion processes
  • Learn how to carry out archival research in order to identify original foundry sources and accurate pattern reproductions when necessary

You'll also learn about current conservation principles and how to undertake appropriate repairs, from an initial survey, through to specification, procurement and on-site repair of existing or installation of new material.

With our experts, everything you learn will be according to best current principles of best conservation practice.

Topics covered

  • Use of metals in Scotland
  • Scottish industrialisation
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Metallurgy
  • Properties and characteristics
  • Decay and failure mechanisms
  • Repair, conservation techniques
  • Maintenance
  • Health and safety

Course content

Short courses offer the opportunity to learn about building conservation through lectures, hands-on workshops, and site visits. 

Classes, lectures and presentations

Students benefit from attending classes and lectures taught by national and international experts. Forthcoming lectures are to be confirmed.

Previous speakers have included:

  • Professor John Hume
  • Jim Mitchell (Industrial Heritage Consulting Ltd.)
  • David Mitchell, Director of Conservation, (Historic Environment Scotland)
  • Ali Davey, Project Manager (Historic Environment Scotland)
  • Gordon Urquhart, Postgraduate Course Manager, (Historic Environment Scotland)

Potential site visits

Students may have the opportunity to participate in site visits. Forthcoming visits are to be confirmed.

Previous site visits for this course has included:

  • Ballantine Iron Foundry, Bo’ness
  • Ratho Byres Forge
  • Larbert Cemetary
  • Kibble Palace, Glasgow’s West End
  • Gardner’s Warehouse, Glasgow Necropolis
  • Macfarlane House, 22 Park Circus
  • Glasgow Central Station
  • Old Fruitmarket
  • Merchant City, Glasgow
  • Bridgeton Umbrella
  • Carron Works Site
  • Calendar House
  • Stirling Town Centre
  • Graciella Ainsworth Studios
  • Powderhall Foundry
  • Edinburgh bronze sculpture sites


Although our short courses are not formally assessed, students will be awarded a certificate upon successfully completing this course.

A formal qualification can be obtained by studying our Advanced Professional Diploma on Technical Building Conservation.

What our students say