Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Conservation of non-ferrous metals

Discover the issues associated with non-ferrous metals in Scotland’s historic built environment. Study materials including bronze and brass, their cultural significance and how they've been used in traditional buildings.



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

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Study time

Taught:10 hours

Self-study:20 hours


As a stand-alone short course:£330

A gate made from iron in a workshop

Explore a range of issues associated with the manufacture and use of non-ferrous metals in Scotland’s historic built environment. In particular, learn about the architectural use of bronze and brass.

What you'll learn

Gain an overview of the cultural significance of non-ferrous metals in Scottish architecture and construction from the medieval period to the 20th century, and the diversity of items manufactured in non-ferrous metals including:

  • window and door ironmongery
  • gas and electric light fittings
  • sanitary pipes and fittings
  • roof coverings and ornament external statuary.

Learn the fundamental characteristics and physical properties of non-ferrous metals and the metallurgical processes for producing alloys.

Repair principles 

This course will teach students current conservation repair principles and how to undertake appropriate repairs, from initial survey and documentation, assessment of fabric condition and diagnosis of the causes of defects, deterioration or mechanical failure, through to specification, procurement and on-site repair of existing or installation of new material. 

Everything you learn on this course will be in the context of current principles of conservation best practice.

If you are interested in studying copper, lead, zinc and non-ferrous alloys in more detail, sign up to our Traditional Roofing Repairs course.

Topics covered

  • Historic use of non-ferrous metals
  • Scottish industrialisation
  • Material processes
  • Manufacturing processes
  • Repair and conservation technqiues
  • Maintenance
  • Health and safety
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Course content

Hands-on workshop/lab activities

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

Potential site visits

  • Graciella Ainsworth Studios
  • Powderhall Foundry
  • Edinburgh bronze sculpture sites


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.

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