Historic Cathedral Can Be Saved With ... Olive Oil?
Brits hope to keep York Minister from falling apart
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2013 4:02 PM CST
A part of York Minister cathedral.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Nothing like a little salad dressing to rescue an 800-year-old cathedral. British scientists and archaeologists tasked with saving York Minister, a stunning cathedral in northern England, say olive oil may do the trick, NPR reports. The oil's main ingredient—oleic acid—could protect the building's stones from acid rain while allowing nasty pollutants to seep out into the air. The problem: Pollution dating back to the Industrial Revolution is causing York Minister's limestone to slowly come apart.

"The salts actually build up in the microstructure of the stone and eventually crack it, and large features will start to fall off the building," says one expert. Others have also tried to protect the medieval structure, which took 250 years to build and has already withstood lightning, fires, pillaging, and looting. An earlier experiment with linseed oil actually damaged and darkened the stone, but inspired the olive-oil idea. Experts plan to give it a go after testing is completed on sample stones.

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Showing 3 of 10 comments
Jan 15, 2013 7:13 AM CST
Anything to stimulate the economies of Spain and Greece
Jan 14, 2013 11:15 AM CST
Hey, Neal Colgrass, it's "York Minster", not "York Minister". But, don't worry about it, it's just one of the most famous buildings in the world. Here's an idea: Try re-reading what you write before posting a story, because relying on spell check to catch all your mistakes isn't cutting it... : (
Jan 14, 2013 9:51 AM CST
They say the Great Wall of China is protected with tung oil, so why wouldn't this work?