Corprolites can be beautiful...

on Thursday, 25 April 2013. Posted in Conservation

Back in 2010 one of our Conservators began work on the Buckland Fossil Table, housed at the Lyme Regis Museum. The table was owned by William Buckland one of the leading geologists of the 19th Century. Buckland was a highly regarded character who, whilst Professor of Geology at Oxford University, carried out pioneering work not only in the study of dinosaurs, but also the analysis of coprolites or fossilised faeces. The large inlay panel of the Buckland fossil table is set with coprolites which have been cut in half and polished to a high sheen. The table is highly unusual and an extremely popular exhibit at Lyme Regis Museum.

The table was stable, but fragile when it arrived at the History Centre. The table top was original, but the base of the table was a simple modern replacement. The veneer over much of the table top had lifted from the table surface, probably due to the age of the adhesive and fluctuations in the humidity of its display environment. In many areas the veneer had been lost completely.

Why are we revisiting the table, I may hear you ask? The answer lies in the beauty and uniqueness of the table itself. Beth was commissioned to produce a replica coprolite panel which will be inserted into a table being produced by a cabinet maker in Dorset. The commission was made by Lyme Regis Museum on behalf of Erik Buckland a descendant of the original owner of the table, based in Canada.

The majority of the conservation work required was focused underneath the table; after a month of lying on her back Beth had an even greater esteem for the work of Michaelangelo on the Cistine chapel, as she could barely move afterwards! It must have been gratifying to know that her painstaking conservation work had been greatly admired!

Julie Davis
Local Studies Assistant

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