Conserving the buckler
The buckler proved to be an interesting challenge for the museum’s conservators. It had been found during excavations on the site of the old Billingsgate fishmarket in 1982 and 1983.
What makes this buckler unusual is that the back and handle, both made of wood, are intact. Burial conditions on sites along the Thames waterfront are ideal for preserving organic materials – the soil is continuously wet which makes it very stable, and free of oxygen which eliminates most bacteria and fungi. As a result, materials such as wood, leather, fibre and others survive burial.
In these conditions, metals may also survive well. The buckler is made of tinned iron and although there was a great deal of corrosion combined with pebbles and gravel, below this, in most areas, there was a good sound surface.