Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Fired Earth Conservation

Dates: TBC
Days of the week: TBC
Total hours: TBC
Taught hours: TBC
On-site instruction: TBC
Off-site instruction: TBC


Learn all about the traditional use of fired earth building products in Scotland’s historic environment since the Roman era.

Explore the material characteristics of brick clays, fire clays and associated earth products, and their industrial production as brick, tiles and terracotta – used for walls, roofing pantiles and chimney pots. Weathering and decay processes are a focus, as are the effects of man-made wear or damage.

You will study the means and methods for undertaking repair projects, and cover the full life cycle of a project – from survey and diagnosis to on-site installation. Conservation repair principles are a key focus. Restoration and cleaning techniques, and sustainable sourcing of replacement materials are other important aspects.

Entry requirements

Individual modules are open to anyone with an interest in the subject matter. Applicants for the Advanced Professional Diploma should have a relevant degree or professional experience.

Classes, lectures and presentations

  • Fired Earth – Origins and Traditions
  • Historic Brick Manufacturing
  • Traditional Brickwork
  • Terracotta, Faience and Cast Stone
  • Tiles and Tiling
  • Decay Mechanisms
  • Repair Techniques
  • Specifying Repair Works
  • Site Practice and Health and Safety Issues

Potential site visits

  • Doulton Fountain, Glasgow
  • Bain Street pipe factory, Glasgow
  • Templeton carpet factory, Glasgow
  • Raeburn Brickworks, Blantyre
  • Cox’s Stack, Dundee
  • St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church, East Kilbride
  • City Heritage Trust sites
  • Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme sites
  • Townscape Heritage Initiative sites
  • Historic Environment Scotland estate schemes


Origins of the material and Scottish traditions

  • History, range and distribution of brick and clay use in Scotland
  • Historic brick manufacturing in Scotland – hand moulding, mechanisation from 19th century, firing techniques, brick types
  • Traditional brickwork – from wall construction to bonds, arches and joint finishes, and from bedding to reinforcements
  • Terracotta, faience and cast stone – typical uses, finishes, pointing
  • Tiles – typical uses, repairs to cracks and breaks, reinforcement and fixings, finishes and bedding, pointing and grouting
  • Decay mechanisms – from mortar loss and water ingress to inappropriate cleaning and repairs

Repair and conservation

  • Techniques – including for diagnosis and elimination of damp, replacing materials, and structural repairs and reinforcement
  • Specifying repairs – from survey, recording and assessment of repair requirements to brick matching and sourcing alternatives
  • Health and safety issues – structural instability of historic fabric, manual handling, safe cutting of brick and fired clay products