The petrography and microstructure of medieval lime mortars from the west of Scotland: implications for formulation of repair and replacement mortars

John J. Hughes, Simon J. Cuthbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Twelfth and thirteenth Century lime mortars from the west of Scotland were examined using optical polarising microscopy and SEM on impregnated, polished thin sections, and of fracture surfaces by secondary electron SEM. The non-hydraulic calcite binder in these mortars is locally inhomogeneous, exhibiting variations in texture and density. Spongiform binder with porosity of size 10-20gm has sharp transitions with neighbouring zones of dense binder. Sub-isopachus concentrically accreted calcite pore linings delineate extensive areas of secondary porosity created by dissolution of binder. Common lime inclusions (lime lumps) suggest that hot mixing processes were used. Textural characteristics of lime lumps are similar to reaction rims on partially burnt primary source limestone suggesting that provenance for the lime can be deduced from the petrographic features of incompletely burnt relics. The evidence for the dissolution and reprecipitation of carbonate binder materials suggests the need for a careful reconsideration of practical historic mortar analysis. These historic mortars are texturally and compositionally more complex than their modern equivalents. These textures provide evidence for historic lime burning and mortar mixing practices in Scotland during the middle ages, as well as ageing processes, and allows the possibility of a more sophisticated approach to formulating compatible replacement mortars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)594-600
Number of pages7
JournalMaterials and Structures
Volume33
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2000

Keywords

  • Mortar
  • lime
  • petrography
  • microstructure
  • Scotland
  • historic buildings

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