Conserving Govan's Roll of Honour

During conservation work on the 1922 Govan War Memorial in Glasgow, a brass casket was found concealed in a stone recess behind the plaque. Written records indicated that the casket contained the roll of Honour, a list of 1122 names of men from Govan killed during World War One.  AOC Archaeology carried out conservation work on the casket on behalf of Govan Cross Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI)/Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS).

The casket after conservation

The Roll of Honour casket (above) was successfully opened by applying heat and gently levering the lid.  Opening regrettably revealed that water had got inside the casket, causing the paper material to deteriorate. The Roll of Honour list of names was unsalvageable and had become pulp.  A newspaper from the day of burial was also enclosed and this was in slightly better condition, though also damp. This was carefully removed and freeze dried to make stable. Several metal coins and the casket were cleaned to remove tarnish and then coated in a protective layer of wax.

Copy of Govan Press from December 1922

Above: copy of the Govan Press newspaper after conservation

Meanwhile, through diligent research, the Govan Cross THI/CARS were able to successfully track down a copy of the original Roll of Honour list of names. This was transcribed and along with additional documentation and copies of the original newspaper article, carefully reinserted into the casket. The casket was then prepared for reinsertion, by enclosing it in a layer of Corrosion Intercept Film and the edges were heat bonded to create a seal. This will provide protection from water ingress so that the Roll of Honour casket can remain safely buried for the next generation. The casket was reburied at the War Memorial on 15th October 2019.