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By John Ashurst

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Other ruin sites witnessed other tragedies long outside living memory and likely to remain unknown, but a site such as Oradour, where much (although not all) is known about the event, has a particular poignancy and presents a particular challenge in terms of conservation. Here it is not the significance of the buildings that merits their retention, but the significance of an event. A memorial could record, but not recall with the same immediacy and power as the broken buildings. The buildings are likely to outlive the living witnesses who remain, but how long and how effectively they can record the original reason for their retention depends on how skilful and how sensitive the ordinary physical processes of maintenance and conservation continue to be.

Drainage channels are formed along the base of the walls and are lined in cement mortar. This kind of work not only completely confuses the surviving evidence of the original building but plays a real part in encouraging its destruction with the use of totally incompatible and inappropriate materials. xl Short story 9 Correct conservation as a benign intervention If the site is considered important enough to leave open, perhaps because it is part of a tourist route, good conservation practice can be used to protect the excavated building, always providing there are adequate funds to carry out conservation maintenance for the indefinite future.

Further collapse of the weakened vault creates piles of stone and debris on the floor. Water now has free access to the decorated wall plaster. Accumulation of soil and stone washed down from the hill above bring about the collapse of the top courses of the upper wall, adding to the accumulation of stone within the building. Some of the fallen stone carries with it the decorative painted plaster frieze. xxxvi Short story 5 Phase four deterioration There is now little more to fall. Accumulations of stone and soil create relatively stable conditions over the ruined temple.

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