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£3m Funding Boost for Queen’s University Archaeology and 14CHRONO Centre

Funding of £3m has been awarded to Queen’s University Belfast to fund a major upgrade of the Archaeology and Palaeoecology laboratories, and the 14CHRONO Centre.

The funding will help transform it into a world-leading institute in heritage and environmental science.

This significant investment from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Capability for Collections (CapCo) fund - a landmark investment in heritage science for the arts and humanities, aimed at building regional capacities and securing the future of the UK’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums.

The bid was led by Professor Paula Reimer and Dr Patrick Gleeson in the School of Natural and Built Environment. The £3m investment completes a major £5m renovation of the 14CHRONO Centre and the Archaeology and Palaeoecology laboratories, with the Department for the Economy providing a £1.9m investment in 2021 to fund the purchase of a state-of-the-art Accelerated Mass Spectrometer.

The 14CHRONO Centre for Climate, the Environment and Chronology is based in the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen’s University. The Centre has a prestigious history as a research leader, providing radiocarbon and stable isotope analysis. Through the Centre, experts also create and develop statistical chronological models for both research and commercial projects in a wide range of disciplines globally, including archaeology and environmental sciences.

The investment also creates leading-edge facilities in isotope analysis, materials characterisation and elemental mapping, conservation and wider archaeological science, intended to support the heritage and environmental science sector of Northern Ireland and beyond. This underlines Queen’s University’s recent investment in this area through the Heritage HUB, and now offers an all-island hub for collections-based research and archaeological science.

Welcoming the award, Professor Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast said: “Queen’s University Belfast is delighted and proud to have secured this significant investment for Archaeology and Palaeoecology and the14CHRONO Centre at Queen’s. This new suite of equipment supports research across all of our Faculties and will allow us to keep pushing the boundaries of understandings in past and current human-environment dynamics, collections research and conservation.

“Our state-of-the-art facility will have a globally unique cluster of equipment, technical capabilities and identity, ensuring that 14CHRONO retains its legacy as a world-leading heritage science pioneer, and supports Queen’s investment in this area through the Heritage Hub.”

Hannah Crowdy, Head of Curatorial at National Museums NI said: “National Museums NI has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial partnership with Queen’s University and this upgrade will offer a major sustainable facility that will underpin the heritage and collections infrastructure of Northern Ireland by driving research, innovation and sustainable curation for heritage collections.

“Access to these facilities will allow National Museums NI to unlock new potential, and maximise our extensive and significant collections, enabling us to take forward some of our organisational research priorities such as Understanding Environmental Change and Reconnecting with Nature.”

The AHRC Capability for Collections fund is part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) World Class Labs funding scheme, a £213m investment in all disciplines from physical sciences to arts and humanities, made through eight research councils. The purpose of the funding scheme is to expand and upgrade existing research infrastructure to help UK researchers tackle major challenges.


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