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Standing Building Recording

Date 17 November 2014 - 6 February 2015

Event ID 1026323

Category Recording

Type Standing Building Recording


NS 5843 6597 Following a major fire which affected much of the western half of the Glasgow School of Art, a programme of archaeological excavation, salvage and standing building recording was undertaken in the Mackintosh Library, the worst affected area. The work was carried out from 17 November 2014 to 6 February 2015. On-site specialist treatment of the artefactual assemblage was provided by AOC Archaeology Group.

The Mackintosh Library was built between 1907 and 1909, and is located at first floor level, at the western end of the corridor leading from the museum, at the top of the main access stair. As well as notable items of furniture, important books and periodicals, the library featured elaborate structural timberwork and associated fittings.

The floor was covered by a large debris pile, roughly 10 x 10m in plan, of loose and fused material up to 2.0m deep, containing burnt and/or water-damaged books, periodicals, furniture, structural timberwork, metal fittings, and other structural debris – primarily stonework, plasterboard and plaster. Further fire-damaged material remained in situ, including a number of timber posts, most of the floorboards, cabinet bases, some steps, patches of plasterwork, and elements of the services (notably electrical wiring and heating duct apertures). The ceiling was significantly damaged and partially collapsed. Doors and windows were extensively damaged and much of the fabric of all the walls, variously of brick and sandstone, was exposed. Some of the plaster and wood panelling, though damaged, remained in situ.

Approximately 80% of the floor area was excavated by hand, the remaining 20% was inaccessible due to collapsed flooring and proximity to insecure masonry overhead. Material was photographed in situ, and its spatial location recorded prior to retrieval and further recording. Of the general debris assemblage, individual items of significance were retained for post-excavation specialist attention. This included items of furniture, structural timberwork, books and structural fittings. Sampled structural material, notably timberwork, was also retained for further analysis.

A baseline drawn record of the four elevations and the floor was completed, identifying and locating all surviving key structural features. Evidence of various changes to services within the library was exposed, from the intramural heating ducts to successive hot water and electrical supply systems. Alterations to the broader fabric of the library were also identified, defining the changes that this remarkable room has been subject to since its initial design and construction.

Archive: National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) and Glasgow School of Art (intended)

Funder: The Glasgow School of Art

Gordon Ewart - Kirkdale Archaeology

(Source: DES, Volume 16)

People and Organisations