What’s Eating Your Archives?

Here’s something which might just make your skin crawl…

Part of the work of the Conservation team is to make sure our archive collections are not eaten by pests (like insects and rodents). To prevent incoming collections from bringing unwanted crawling visitors into our stores, all the new accessions taken in by the Record Office are put into quarantine, and inspected carefully before they are given the all clear.

We were rather impressed when we came across this letter the other day, which reminded us why the quarantine process is important. The document had very clearly suffered from insect damage and came complete with the (luckily dead) culprits;

Insect Damage

Insect Damage

The insects were identified as Wood Weevils, wood boring weevils with a distinctive long snout, which usually attack rotten or damp wood. We think these items must have been stored in wooden boxes, and as these insects see tightly packed stacks of paper as the equivalent of a block of wood, they were quite happy to munch their way through a pile of documents.

The extent of the damage is really quite amazing, and, believe it or not, it is possible for the Conservators to actually repair this item, although it will be very painstaking!

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