An assessment of the condition of nine engraved sites in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

User menu

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Andrew Thorn; Valerie Magar;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup1, p.118-126 (2016)


Nine engravings in the hinterland around Hong Kong Island have been studied independently by the authors, as part of an overall assessment of current management practices, the state of the engravings, conservation impacts and future survival. Four independent studies were commissioned in 2009 by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in conjunction with the Antiquities and Monuments Office who have legislative responsibility for all archaeological sites within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The sites have received varying levels of protection in the form of roofs, fences, and screens, and in more recent times, a range of conservation treatments aimed at prolonging their life and improving legibility. This paper reviews the state of the engravings from the point of view of protection and presentation and considers the effectiveness of the infrastructure in mitigating what are often conflicting needs. Modern conservation treatments must be considered in several dimensions: their effectiveness and durability in an aggressive climate, given that the engravings have survived for 3000 years, and the feasibility and cost of maintaining such treatments over the next 3000 years and longer. This paper describes field observations rather than measured data, due to the nature of the commission, highlighting the value of intelligent observation as an investigative tool. The main focus of the paper is on the impact of protective shelters and applied treatments as observed during two of the independent surveys, concluding that protection must address all environmental and visitor impacts to be fully protective.