October 2nd 2020


Fantastic News!

Fantastic News! Today, M. Womersleys Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement with the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, in Ethiopia, who have been awarded Cultural Heritage funding from the British Council, to survey and conserve some of the internationally important, Rock Hewn Churches, in the Gheralta area of Tigray, in northern Ethiopia.

The project, which is a collaborative venture between the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Addis Ababa University, Mekelle University and M.Womersleys Ltd., will survey and conserve this vital cultural heritage; train local communities to undertake some of the repair works; and develop heritage tourism.
Ethiopian experts in Geology, Engineering and Material Conservation and a British expert in Historic Building Conservation will survey and evaluate the condition of 13 rock hewn churches, in this Sacred Mountainous Landscape Region of Tigray. These churches are being affected by landslides, stone fracturing and water leakage, which is threatening their stability and resulting in the decay of carved stonework, decorative detail, and religious paintings inside the churches. The group will assess the risk from further damage caused by climate change, especially focusing on excessive water penetration, salt movement and crystallisation.

This specialist team will then prepare repair schedules and implement detailed conservation work at the two churches: Abune Abreham Debretsion and Korkor Debre Mariam, at Korkor Monastery. Some of this work will be done by local craftsmen, who will be provided with additional conservation training by Mark Womersley. In addition to work on the churches, access paths lost to landslides will be reinstated.

The model for this project combines community inclusive cultural heritage protection and conservation; and sustainable tourism development; with a real effort to tackle the effects of climate change on the geology  and heritage of the Gheralta, Tembien and Hawzien landscape, which houses over 120 rock hewn churches, some dating from the 4th century.
All this will be carried out on churches which are situated in high isolation, carved into sandstone cliffs, 2500 metres above sea level, on the outcrops of the escarpment, before the end of February 2021.

October 2nd 2020

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