Q. Why do they need conservation?
The paintings have been exposed to the elements for over a century and, during that time, have received little in the way of conservation. It was common practise at the time they were rediscovered to apply coats of wax or varnish to newly uncovered paintings. Sadly, these early conservation attempts often did more harm than good. Luckily most of the Lakenheath paintings were not treated in this way. However, the paintings have suffered from a number of other things. At various times in the past leaks in the roof have allowed water to run across the surface of the paintings, leaving the pale streaks that we can see today. This has also encouraged the layers of paint and plaster to ‘delaminate’ - to split apart from each other. If urgent work is not carried out then, within a very few years, the paintings will simply crumble away to dust.