The untold heritage value and significance of replicas



Foster SM & Jones S (2019) The untold heritage value and significance of replicas. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 21 (1), pp. 1-24.

This article focuses on the fraught questions surrounding replicas and their use in heritage contexts, drawing on the first in-depth qualitative study of a historic replica, the 1970 concrete St John's Cross, Iona. We examine how replicas 'work' and unravel the part that social relations, place and materiality play in the production and negotiation of authenticity. The research shows that replicas are important objects in their own right, acquiring value, authenticity and aura. The 'life' of a replica generates networks of relationships between people, places and things, including the original historic object, becoming part of its 'composite' biography. While the underlying human stories of creativity, skill and craftsmanship are rendered invisible when replicas are treated as mere surrogates, we argue that these 'life-stories' should be incorporated into future conservation, management and interpretation. The article spells out practical advice and guidance for heritage professionals who find themselves dealing with replicas.

replication; focussed ethnography; cultural significance; values; authenticity; conservation process

Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites: Volume 21, Issue 1

FundersThe Royal Society of Edinburgh, Historic Environment Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland
Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online25/04/2019
Date accepted by journal12/11/2018

People (2)


Professor Sally Foster

Professor Sally Foster

Professor, History

Professor Sian Jones

Professor Sian Jones

Professor of Heritage, History

Projects (3)