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There are two reasons for producing this glossary. Providing an easy reference for anyone with an interest in the conservation of the built environment is the most obvious. The second reason may not be so immediately apparent, or indeed, appear so pressing, but it is undoubtedly the more important of the two.

In addition to simply cataloguing terms, the glossary is an attempt to impart some of the range, the sheer complexity, and the enormous interest and satisfaction that can be found in conservation work. It is not just a list of architectural terms, in effect it is presenting a working, practical language that is the unwritten rule book of conservation work; and if we are to conserve properly, there are many rules. So much needs to be known and understood, and used correctly. Buildings and their settings need to be described accurately, but they must also be dated, their function identified, and their associations explored and recorded. Where are the sources for such information? The craftsmen who built them, the tools they used and the materials they fashioned need to be understood and appreciated, if defects are to be identified and put right; and what of the complexities of organising such work on site? An understanding of the philosophies that might underpin or even drive much of what we do is required. Knowledge of relevant sections of legislation and statutory guidance, which can be drawn mainly from the Planning Acts is essential, along with some understanding of the working of both public and private sector finance. Finance and legislation, taken together add up to the "carrot and stick" syndrome, which can be so important in conservation work. All of this points to the need to be able to identify those bodies who can advise on all of this, and perhaps offer financial assistance.

The sheer weight of information should be a fairly clear demonstration that conservation work is not just about aesthetics, and is most certainly not some esoteric fringe activity. While many professionals now view it as a discipline in its own right, it is not a marginal subject, the fact is, that none of this information is new, bringing it all together, illustrates that what we have here, and what conservation is largely all about, is a different way of looking at things. For the planner, it is a legal responsibility, which fits into the drive for sustainability, and which, contrary to the belief of many can be a positive part of the development process. It is an architectural discipline requiring scholarship and common sense, it frequently requires an extra dimension of the engineer and is at all times looking for the sympathy of the surveyor. Above all, from everyone concerned it needs ingenuity and imagination. The case studies have been included in the hope that, amongst other things, they will emphasise these points.

This glossary doesn't pretend to be exhaustive, while hopefully there is enough here to impart the notion of the "rule book" I decided as a bottom line, to only include entries, with which, after some 20 years as a local authority conservation officer, I am personally familiar. Its longer than I thought it would be, far longer in fact, but even so, a document such as this will always basically, seem to be a draft. It remains capable of improvement in so many different ways, and could be quite easily expanded into new areas. There are for example, few mentions of individual architects although this is a gap more than adequately filled by such books as the Penguin "Dictionary of Architecture" by John Fleming, Hugh Honour, and Nikolaus Pevsner, and of course, Howard Colvin's "Biographical Dictionary of British Architects". There are too few references to tools and manufacturing processes, which can exhibit quite startling regional variations, and practically nothing on place names, which can be very revealing.

The bodies involved in conservation work are numerous and widespread, and all are worthwhile. Those included here are fairly representative, although there is a concentration on the statutory bodies, those others who are legal consultees, and those who produce good literature. Almost all are charitable trusts. No addresses have been given*, but these, along with virtually all of the other bodies involved in conservation can be found in the excellent " Building Conservation Directory" published annually by Cathedral Communications Ltd. Other than where a text might be regarded as essential reading for a particular entry, and the few mentions certain books receive in this introduction, I have deliberately avoided too many references, it would have been very easy to turn this into a conservation booklist.

I have mainly confined myself to fact, but personal comment and anecdotal information have inevitably crept in. On top of illustrating the complexity of building conservation, my other hope for the glossary is that it might enable certain people to start asking the right questions, but no more than that, it is important to appreciate that there is a great deal here which is very superficial indeed. For example, materials are described, but this is not a technical document, and appropriate advice should always be sought; something of the philosophy of repair is mentioned through the references to the conservation charters, and the work of ICOMOS, but this document is most certainly no substitute for reading the genuine article. Some of the terms used do have more than one meaning, but I have confined myself to what is relevant in this context. It is important to remember that the subject of the glossary is conservation.


There are a number of general headings such as brickwork, classical architecture, measured survey, the roof etc and items relating to such subjects may not appear in the main body of the glossary**, but could feature in the sub-glossaries which have been composed under these general headings. For example, "stretcher" appears under brickwork, "doric order" appears under classical architecture, while "photogrammetry" appears under measured survey and "king post" appears under roof. A number of illustrated case studies have been included to give the glossary more of a focus and to clarify certain entries. The Sea Captain's House case study for example puts a number of the financial terms which appear into context, while the Forteviot Bridge study discusses stonework and the components of the arch.

All of this could have lead to a lot of tedious cross referencing, or even duplication, which I have tried to resist. General headings and case studies have been included in an index, which I hope will make finding entries a little simpler. I have wherever possible, tried to establish links between entries, because it is my hope, that the glossary will at least occasionally be read in its entirety, like a book, rather than being dipped into like a dictionary, or the telephone directory.

There are a number of traditional or indigenous terms, the majority of which are Scottish, and marked with an (S) - I have spent all of my working life in Scotland, and cannot apologise for the fact that the Scots seem to have more terms of their own I hope that this will encourage people to think of - not invent - terms which are missing and that as a result, one day the glossary will expand to truly represent the whole country, and perhaps even become international.

The Centre for Conservation and Urban Studies,
University of Dundee

* - many of the organisations listed have links to the relevant web sites - WebEditor
** - all the sub-glossary terms should now be found in the main alphabetical listings, I just can't resist that tedious cross referencing! - WebEditor