Non-Destructive Testing for Archaeology and Conservation


Non-destructive testing (NDT) is a powerful tool for understanding the health of the historic built environment. It can help diagnose pathologies and reveal hidden stories. This understanding can be vital for accurate condition surveys of historic buildings and provide evidence to support conservation management or development strategies. This 2-day course will introduce a range of equipment and include hands-on guided sessions.

Applying the correct technique and using the correct tools is vital for gathering meaningful data and enabling useful interpretation. Commonly used techniques in the historic environment range from simple hand-held microscopes to powerful ground-penetrating radars, and this is an exciting time, with new technologies being developed and introduced every year. By understanding the scientific principles behind NDT it is possible to develop an overall strategy to good practice.

In this course, we will learn how to make best use of NDT in archaeology and historic building survey. We will cover basic principles that apply to NDT in general, before looking in detail at several important established and emerging techniques, different types of Moisture Meter, Surface Hardness Measurement, Thermal Imaging, Digital microscopy, Pulse Wave Velocity, and Ground Penetrating Radar. We will cover recent, real-world work done by the tutor and also try our hand at gathering data in the field and making simple statistical evaluations.

Programme details

Day 1

9am- Registration and Welcome

9.30am- An Introduction to Non-Destructive Testing in Conservation

10.30am- Tea/coffee break

11am- What are we looking for? Pathologies of decay & identification of malefactors.

12pm- General guidelines for effective use and data collection

12.45pm- Discussion, review of morning and Q&A

1pm- Lunch Break

2pm Practical session: A hands-on look at typical NDT equipment (continues after break)

3pm- Tea/coffee Break

3.30pm- Practical session continues

4.30-5pm Discussion, preparation for site visit on day 2 and close

7pm- Optional 3 course dinner


Day 2

8.30am- Gather and depart for site visit to Wytham

9.00am- Field session 1: Rapid survey and identification

10.30am- Short Break

11am- Field session 2: Complex survey and data collection

12.30pm- Lunch Break, return to class

1.30pm- Handling data. Turning results into findings

3.30pm- Tea/coffee Break

4.00pm- Summary session

5pm- Course conclusion


Description Costs
Tuition fee £500.00
Dinner Tuesday - 3 courses £28.50
Hot Lunch Tuesday - 3 courses £19.25
Hot Lunch Wednesday - 3 courses £19.25
Single Standard room with Breakfast (Tue night) £113.00


Richard Grove

Course Director

Dr Richard Grove is an archaeologist and conservator with twenty years of field experience in the historic environment. He has worked extensively in both the commercial and academic research sectors, working on both nationally and internationally significant sites and monuments. He currently works with the University of Oxford on stone conservation projects at sites such as Blenheim Palace, developing new applications for emerging technology in real-world situations.


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is available for this course at Rewley House.

Please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices with Continuing Education Residential Centre +44 (0)1865 270362, please do quote the course name as a reference at the time of booking. 

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.