Context and meaning generation: the conservation of garments deliberately concealed within buildings

Eastop, Dinah and Dew, Charlotte (2006) Context and meaning generation: the conservation of garments deliberately concealed within buildings. In, Saunders, David, Townsend, Joyce H. and Woodcock, Sally (eds.) The Object in Context: Crossing Conservation Boundaries. The 21st IIC International Congress London, UK, International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 17-22. (Contributions to IIC Congress Series).


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This paper shows how the context (created from spatial, temporal and textual elements) has a profound effect on artefact conservation and demonstrates this via the Deliberately Concealed Garments Project ( There is a long-standing but seldom reported practice of deliberately concealing worn garments within the structure of buildings (e.g. alongside chimneys). These finds, usually uncovered during building work, are sometimes viewed as rubbish and are thrown away. Some are valued as evil-averting agents and are re-concealed. Some are valued as rare examples of dress. The significance attributed to the finds affects whether and how they are preserved. If they are valued primarily as rare garments, conservation may focus on preserving the finds themselves rather than on preserving evidence of concealment. The distinct phases of their ‘life’ and the range of meanings attributed to them mean that these garments provide a vivid model for analysing how understanding of context influences conservation.

Item Type: Book Section
ISBNs: 0954816919 (hardback)
Related URLs:
Keywords: deliberately concealed garments project
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NM Artefact
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Art
ePrint ID: 28660
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:53

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