It’s been announced that York Minster, the second-largest gothic church in Europe, may shortly be coated in a layer of fat derived from olive oil. It’s all part of a growing trend of looking to the past for remedies to contemporary problems.
The Minster was built between 1220 and 1470 using magnesian limestone. Apparently the stone masons used to rub linseed oil into the blocks. The effect was to bind the calcium found in the limestone.
Now Cardiff University in Wales has developed a substance to form the proposed 21st-century protective layer. Chemist Karen Wilson said: “We went to the traditional idea but used olive oil. It forms a layer one molecule thick which stops water getting in ”” but is porous enough to let moisture escape.”