Heritage hub

Explore our heritage research

Innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to conserving the past for the future.


The University of Portsmouth Heritage Hub brings together researchers and professionals from across the University to tackle key issues in heritage and heritage conservation locally, nationally and internationally.

The Hub promotes a highly interdisciplinary approach to preserving both tangible and intangible heritage for communities, policy-makers and organisations.  

We aim to:

  • provide a focus for University engagement with heritage partners locally, nationally and internationally
  • encourage and support successful and inclusive heritage research within the University and with local communities
  • develop and implement an interdisciplinary dialogue and agenda for heritage research

    We've organised our interests into five areas of activity:

    Oral histories, communities and identity

    Oral histories are compiled from the recorded interviews of people, reflecting personal opinions and accounts of historically significant events. Oral histories do not necessarily present a final, objective version of history, but provide a tapestry of histories that although subjective, provide insights and understanding into a historical event.

    Conservation science

    Conservation science is the interdisciplinary study of the care, protection and conservation of art, architecture and other cultural works through the use of scientific analysis to understand the physical processes, the physical nature and alteration of heritage artefacts.

    Valuing heritage

    Valuing heritage is an important step in providing funders and society with a clear idea of the worth of different kinds of heritage. Valuation incorporates both the purely economic value as well as the social and cultural value of heritage, both the tangible and intangible aspects of heritage.

    Community heritage

    Community heritage focuses on the buildings, traditions, everyday practices and the people that help a community to identify with and help construct a place and to take pride in that belonging. Community heritage is often referred to as ‘hidden’ heritage as it often slips through traditional perceptions of heritage, despite its vital significance to local communities.

    Connected heritage

    Connected heritage looks at how digital technologies can help in opening up heritage to different groups and how digital technologies can aid in the interpretations of heritage. 

    Lighthouse at Southsea Castle

    Portsmouth Heritage Week

    It's an opportunity for academics and the public to discover the latest in heritage research at the University of Portsmouth and how our expertise can benefit the wider community in Portsmouth and beyond.

    Coming 2023

    Oral histories, communities and identity

    This project will build an archive of the personal experiences of students at the University of Portsmouth. Students, especially international students, are transitory but play an important role in the vibrancy and culture of the University, and of the city. However, they are not necessarily represented in official documentation such as voting lists or census returns.

    The oral history interviews will build up a wider story of the impact and legacy of HE and FE in Portsmouth, trace student stories, the influence of their education on their lives and career trajectories, and map out patterns of temporary migration. It will complement and enrich our understanding of the existing University archive.

    Contact: Melanie Bassett

    Portsmouth Black History is a long-term project to engage the public through participatory methods, from school-age to lifelong learners. Recognising and embedding Portsmouth’s Black history as an integral part of our local history, and British history more broadly, is a central strand of anti-racist work.

    This project brings together key stakeholders such as local academics, community activists, curators, archivists and teachers in a collaborative project curriculum. Our activities are underpinned by a commitment to encourage community cohesion and a vibrant and inclusive local culture, and to promote wellbeing and the widening of participation.

    Contact: Melanie Bassett

    Conservation science

    Dr Sam Robson and Dr Garry Scarlett from the University of Portsmouth are working with Dr Alex Hildred from the Mary Rose Museum to look at ancient DNA from the skeletons of crew members raised from the wreckage.

    Using whole genome sequencing techniques, they hope to develop an understanding of phenotypic characteristics, disease traits and geographic information of the crew members of one of the most famous shipwrecks in history.

    Dr Robson and Dr Scarlett are continuing to explore the DNA of additional crew members to understand in more detail the ethnic variation amongst the crew, as well as understanding the genetic variation amongst Tudor individuals.

    In addition, they are extending their techniques in order to explore additional artefacts from the collection to increase our understanding of this unique snapshot into the Tudor age.

    Contact: Garry Scarlett

    This collaboration between Fishbourne Roman Palace, zooarchaeologist Professor Naomi Sykes (University of Exeter), archaeogeneticists Professor Greger Larson (University of Oxford) and Dr Laurent Frantz (Queen Mary University), and members of the Ancient DNA Research Group from the University of Portsmouth will explore the origin of the cattle remains found at the palace and surrounding areas, particularly the relationship with Celtic or continental breeds.

    The results will provide insight into agricultural practice at the transition from Celtic to Roman period, and the relationship between the Roman and Celtic culture in the region. More info here.

    Contact: Garry Scarlett and Tarek Teba

    The research being undertaken at the Roman villa at Newport, Isle of Wight is a collaborative project with external stakeholders Paul Simpson (Isle of Wight Council), John Stewart and Andrew More (Historic England).

    Biofilms growing on historic buildings and artefacts can cause serious damage, with critical implications for their conservation and preservation. We are investigating novel on-site biofilm detection methods and the use of UVC as a cost-effective, reliable and non-destructive remediation tool for endangered historic buildings.

    To investigate the use of UVC treatment in historic buildings Dr Joy Watts, Dr Rob Inkpen, Dr Andy Gibson and Dr Emily Butcher of the University of Portsmouth are working to create rapid monitoring and remediation tools that will be suitable for application at other historically important sites and buildings.

    Contact: Rob Inkpen

    There are two key objectives of this research project:

    1. Identify Hyperspectral Indicators of Decay (HIDs) on timber (HMS Victory). An endoscope attachment for the University of Portsmouth ASD Labspec4 spectrometer will be used to measure hyperspectral characteristics of surfaces and void-spaces representing different stages of repair and decay at both assets.
    2. Evaluate HIDs as a conservation tool. Evaluation of outputs within existing investigation and conservation management practices at both assets.

    Contact: Andy Gibson

    This project will identify and quantify the composition of sulphation crusts on stone monuments in relation to microplastics. This question will be able to assess the potential of microplastics for dating such crusts and thereby enable quantification of rates of crust formation, a key issue in the dynamics of stone decay and conservation. This is important in determining the relative contribution of decay processes in contemporary building degradation.

    Contact: Mike Fowler

    We're conducting sedimentary DNA and pollen analysis of the Fishbourne Roman Villa site to determine land usage. This is a new type of heritage analysis at the University of Portsmouth which combines the skills from multiple members of academic staff.

    Sedimentary analysis is an exciting and important tool for archaeologists to explore the land usage of historic sites, and one that is often requested by partner organisations. We have chosen Fishbourne as a first example of this analysis as there are outstanding historical questions concerning the Southern Agricultural Garden which will be resolved by our work. The data obtained will allow the museum to explore the relationship between the palace and the garden sites, which remains a source of debate.

    This project will:

    1. enrich and inform new interpretations of the region
    2. expand the heritage science capacity of the University of Portsmouth in the field of sedimentary analysis
    3. bring together expertise in heritage science at the University of Portsmouth
    4. provide a mechanism for student employability and community engagement

    Contact: Adele Julier

    Valuing heritage

    Working with Fishbourne Roman Palace, the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of Portsmouth aims to reframe the current interpretation of the palace through the creation of digital interpretations that engage younger generations in exploring the ruins.

    The project aims to link the ruins and the missing parts of the site in order to establish a complete narrative when visitors move from the sheltered ruins towards the formal garden. Academics will work with architecture and creative technologies students, and the local primary school in order to:

    1. enhance the younger generation's understanding and sense of ownership of their heritage
    2. visualise the interpretation of the missing parts of the palace
    3. co-create new activities for children and visitors within the ruins

    Contact: Tarek Teba

    In collaboration with the University of Jordan, the School of Architecture at the University of Portsmouth has established a research workshop that offers networking and educational activities concerning urban regeneration, a crucial working and research issue in Middle Eastern cities.

    It aims to promote the international exchange of knowledge and experience about novel theories, strategies and methods for regenerating culturally accepted and inclusive cities. The workshop intends to enhance urban regeneration knowledge using input from both theoretical and practice platforms. It utilizes the live project model of education to apply theoretical knowledge on a real case study in order to generate solutions for cities that have exacting and urgent conditions without affecting their identity.

    Contact: Tarek Teba

    This project will use the framework of the DDCMS to undertake a valuation of the cultural and heritage significance of the Hilsea Lido. The project will use a modified natural capital approach, as outline in the framework, to assess the potential and ease of application of the different valuation techniques to a piece of built heritage.

    Hilsea is mentioned within the PCC-Heritage Strategy for Portsmouth, Appendix A, as a key piece of built heritage in the long-term strategy for heritage in Portsmouth. As part of this process the project will employ the novel technique of PRISM (Pictorial Representation of Illness and Self Measure) adapted for use in valuation.

    Contact: Brian Baily

    Community heritage

    This project uses ethnographic methods to collaborate with the PBBA in analysing the cultural significance of the memorial and the process of engagement with organisations to develop the idea of memorial in Victoria Park, Portsmouth.

    The project, co-developed with the PBBA, will explore how the memorial embodies a representation of a shared cultural past for the Bangladeshi community in Portsmouth and how this representation has been subject to negotiation through the process of creation of a physical memorial in a public space in Portsmouth.

    The outcome from this project will enable the identification of how the memorialization of significant cultural moments are subjected to instability in meanings when they are translated into a physical form in a public space.

    Contact: Bryony Whitmarsh or Rob Inkpen

    Tyenham village presents an exemplary site to operate a co-creation approach to research and offers an opportunity to engage different communities in revealing new perspectives
    of the village (its past and its contemporary site); to capture hidden narratives and local knowledge of the site; to respond to the site’s historic, archeological and ecological
    qualities, and to preserve its history through documentation.

    The Dorset village of Tyneham was a rural farming and fishing community. In 1943, the village was requisitioned as part of the war effort to allow soldiers to train for the invasion of Europe and although the villagers understood they would be able to return after the war, this did not happen and the area is still occupied by the military. The village is located in an outstanding archaeological and ecological landscape and although many of the buildings are in a state of ruin, they clearly describe the life of a coastal, pre-industrial village.

    The remaining structures include three listed buildings – a farm building, a school house and a church – and the more dilapidated remains of a manor house, a rectory, the village shop and the many working-class homes of the labourers. The area is unusual as it operates both as a major tourist destination and as a live firing range for the MOD, it attracts thousands of visitors and is loved by the local community; however, the social history, archaeological and ecological dimensions of this site are not fully documented, evaluated and articulated.

    Contact: Rachael Brown

    Connected heritage

    The Mary Rose Museum hackathon provides an opportunity for University of Portsmouth students from different backgrounds (science, humanities, art, creative and digital practices) to join a cross-disciplinary co-creation/competition and work in teams with academics to co-design and build interactive innovative interfaces to communicate scientific and heritage data to the public.

    The hackathon evolved from the AHRC "Towards A National Collection funded Unpath'd Waters: Marine and Maritime Collections in the UK" discovery project, led by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England. Unpath'd aims to reshape the future of UK marine heritage, by devising novel ways of searching across collections, visualising underwater landscapes, and identifying wrecks and artefacts from them. Unpath'd will also deliver digital tools to protect our most significant heritage, while inviting the public to co-design ways of exploring the archives in order to uncover previously untold stories and new questions to guide future research.

    The hackathon intends to explore how students as an audience could be engaged with regional heritage collections through co-creation of a digital immersive experience. A key output will be the focused, meaningful and productive co-creation of prototype XR (extended reality) experiences.

    Contact: Claire Bailey-Ross


    Claire Stephanie Bailey-Ross Portrait

    Dr Claire Bailey-Ross

    Associate Dean (Academic)


    School of Creative Technologies

    Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

    PhD Supervisor

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    Garry Scarlett Portrait

    Dr Garry Scarlett

    Associate Head (Academic)

    Interim Head of School


    School of Biological Sciences

    Faculty of Science and Health

    PhD Supervisor

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    Robert John Inkpen Portrait

    Dr Rob Inkpen

    Reader in Physical Geography


    School of the Environment, Geography, and Geosciences

    Faculty of Science and Health

    PhD Supervisor

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    Ann Veronica Coats Portrait

    Dr Ann Coats

    Reader in Maritime History


    School of Civil Engineering and Surveying

    Faculty of Technology

    PhD Supervisor

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    Karen Mary McBride Portrait

    Media ready expert

    Dr Karen McBride

    Reader in Accounting


    School of Accounting, Economics and Finance

    Faculty of Business and Law

    PhD Supervisor

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    Melanie Marie Bassett Portrait

    Dr Melanie Bassett

    Research Fellow in Public Engagement


    School of Area Studies, History, Politics, and Literature

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

    PhD Supervisor

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    Tarek Teba Portrait

    Dr Tarek Teba

    Reader in Architectural Heritage


    School of Architecture

    Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries

    PhD Supervisor

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    For more information about the University of Portsmouth Heritage Hub, please email us. 

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