Scotland felt the effects of some extreme winter weather in the past week as high winds and heavy rain battered the country. 
Severe weather events like this, which are happening more frequently as our climate changes, can have a serious impact on historic buildings, making them less wind and watertight and increasing vulnerability to decay.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is harnessing the use of innovative science and technology to help better understand these risks, and inform conservation works to protect historic buildings from the impacts of climate change
Recently, scientists at HES have been applying these techniques to Broughty Castle in Dundee, which is cared for by HES. 

The castle – the ‘strong point on the Tay’ – was built in 1490 to defend Scotland against a gathering English navy. It now houses a museum run by Leisure and Culture Dundee with exhibitions on the life and times of Broughty Ferry, its people and surrounding environment. 

HeraldScotland: Historic sites like Broughty Castle in Dundee are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather eventsHistoric sites like Broughty Castle in Dundee are increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events

However, its once strategically important location, on a rocky promontory at the mouth of the river, now leaves it highly exposed to the elements.

Using infrared thermography, which involves the use of a thermal camera which takes readings of infrared radiation, the team were able to record temperature differences of surfaces within the castle, which can offer clues about a wider variety of building conditions including areas of heat loss, dampness, and where insulation might not be working properly.

The team also undertook a microwave moisture survey of the building, which uses a sensor to map the moisture content of different walls and surfaces and indicate areas of saturation.

Aurélie Turmel, Conservation Science Manager at HES, said: 
“By combining the datasets from both these survey methods, we will be able to identify any areas of water entry to the site, and gain insight in to how the water may be moving throughout the building.
“The findings from this survey will play a crucial role in the management and maintenance of Broughty Castle, as it will help us to effectively identify where the site is vulnerable to water ingress, and direct conservation efforts to mitigate the impacts of increased rainfall.

“As we continue to keenly feel the impacts of climate change here in Scotland, including increased frequency and intensity of heavy rainfall, it’s exciting to be able to use cutting-edge technology to such valuable effect and help protect our precious historic sites for future generations,” she said.