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Diverse construction types and local timber sources characterize earlymedieval church roofs in southwestern Sweden

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... Large amounts of historical timber, e.g., roof trusses, ceilings joists, buttresses and basement pillars, have survived under dry conditions in buildings that are in many cases still intact, enabling insights into the building history of the last millennium (e.g., Hollstein, 1980;Kuniholm and Striker, 1987;Crone and Fawcett, 1998;Büntgen et al., 2006b;Seiller et al., 2014;Bernabei et al., 2016). In particular, sacral buildings (e.g., churches), but also public and private secular architecture from medieval to modern periods are valuable data sources for dendroarchaeological studies (e.g., Hoffsummer, 2009;Seim et al., 2015;Domínguez-Delmás et al., 2017;Haneca and van Daalen, 2017;Christopoulou et al., 2020b). ...
... For example, in the lowlands of western Europe oak was regularly used for all components of vernacular buildings due to the rare occurrence of conifers (Haneca et al., 2009;San-Miguel-Ayanz et al., 2016). Northern Europe's vernacular architecture was dominated by pine, whereas fir and spruce are more frequently found in central European constructions (Becker and Giertz-Siebenlist, 1970;Eißing and Dittmar, 2011;Seim et al., 2015;Thun and Svarva, 2017;Kolář et al., 2021). Larch is restricted to high elevation areas in the Alps and parts of the Tatra Mountains, where it was also preferentially used (Büntgen et al., 2006a(Büntgen et al., , 2013. ...
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Human evolution was strongly related to environmental factors. Woodlands and their products played a key role in the production of tools and weapons, and provided unique resources for constructions and fuel. Therefore wooden finds are essential in gaining insights into climatic and land use changes but also societal development during the Holocene. Dendroarchaeological investigations, based on tree rings, wood anatomy and techno-morphological characteristics are of great importance for a better understanding of past chronological processes as well as human-environment-interactions. Here we present an overview of the sources, methods, and concepts of this interdisciplinary field of dendroarchaeology focusing on Europe, where several tree-ring chronologies span most of the Holocene. We describe research examples from different periods of human history and discuss the current state of field. The long settlement history in Europe provides a myriad of wooden archeological samples not only for dating but also offer exciting new findings at the interface of natural and social sciences and the humanities.
... For this purpose, reports with a focus on buildings being considered as part of the cultural heritage; foremost, churches and buildings included in archaeological studies have been reviewed. Among these writings, great emphasis has been placed on studies and articles about Swedish churches [51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61][62][63][64][65], as well as the literature about dendrochronological techniques used in cultural heritage studies with a focus on building conservation [3,4,46,56]. Moreover, we looked at dendrochronological reports in which we could find follow-up publications (both scientific and popular publications, such as museum catalogues) written by authors other than the report author. ...
... Scots pine is a common evergreen conifer in large parts of Northern Europe. Due to distinct annual rings and its presence in a wide range of settings, Scots pine is also commonly used in dendrochronological studies [64,67]. Oak also has a wide distribution across Europe and has, since prehistoric times, been used as construction timber [3]. ...
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A significant part of our cultural heritage consists of wood. Research on historical wooden structures and artefacts thereby provides knowledge of people’s daily lives and the society in which they lived. Dendrochronology is a well-established dating method of wood that can also provide valuable knowledge about climate dynamics, environmental changes, silviculture, and cultural transformations. However, dendrochronology comes with some limitations that end users in cultural heritage sciences must be aware of, otherwise their surveys may not be ultimately performed. We have drawn attention to studies in which dendrochronological results have been misinterpreted, over-interpreted, or not fully utilized. On the other hand, a rigorous dendrochronological survey may not respond to the request of information in practice. To bridge this rigour-relevance gap, this article has considered and reviewed both the dendrochronology’s science-perspective and the practitioner’s and end user’s call for context appropriate studies. The material for this study consists of (i) interviews with researchers in dendrochronology and end users represented by cultural heritage researchers with focus on building conservation and building history in Sweden, and (ii) a review of dendrochronological reports and the literature where results from the reports have been interpreted. From these sources we can conclude that a continuous two-way communication between the dendrochronologists and end users often would have resulted in improved cultural heritage studies. The communication can take place in several steps. Firstly, the design of a sampling plan, which according to the current standard for sampling of cultural materials often is required, is an excellent common starting point for communication. Secondly, the survey reports could be developed with a more extensive general outline of the method and guidance in how to interpret the results. Thirdly, the potential contribution from dendrochronology is often underused, foreseeing historical information on local climate, silviculture, and choice of quality of the wooden resource, as the focus most often is the chronological dating. Finally, the interpretation of the results should consider all the available sources where dendrochronology is one stake for a conciliant conclusion.
... For objects in which the most recent ring (i.e., outermost) is preserved the exact year and in some cases even the season of the year for tree felling can be determined [4,5]. The precision of dendrochronology thereby surpasses most other dating methods and has thus become a well-established method for the dating of wooden constructions [6], historical buildings [7,8], shipwrecks [9,10], archaeological artefacts [11,12], historical events [13,14], climate dynamics [15,16], as well as hazards and environmental changes [17,18]. Since the 1970s, dendrochronology has also been regularly used to date the planks used as wooden supports (i.e., panels) for paintings [1,2,[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]. ...
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The implementation of multidisciplinary research approaches is an essential prerequisite to obtain comprehensive insights into the life and works of the old masters and their timeline in the production of the arts. In this study, traditional art history, cultural heritage, and natural science methods were combined to shed light on an Adoration of the Shepherds painting by Jacques Jordaens (1593–1678), which until now had been considered as a copy. From dendrochronological analysis of the wooden support, it was concluded that the planks in the panel painting were made from Baltic oak trees felled after 1608. An independent dating based on the panel maker’s mark, and the guild’s quality control marks suggests a production period of the panel between 1617 and 1627. Furthermore, the size of the panel corresponds to the dimension known as salvator, which was commonly used for religious paintings during the period 1615 to 1621. Finally, the interpretation of the stylistic elements of the painting suggests that it was made by Jordaens between 1616 and 1618. To conclude, from the synthesis of: (i) dendrochronological analysis, (ii) panel makers’ punch mark and Antwerp Guild brand marks, (iii) re-examination of secondary sources, and (iv) stylistic comparisons to other Jordaens paintings, we suggest that the examined Adoration of the Shepherds should be considered as an original by Jordaens and likely painted in the period 1617–1618. The study is a striking example of the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary approach to investigate panel paintings.
... Reference site chronologies can also be developed from historic timbers with rather local, or known origin (e.g. Ohyama et al., 2007;Kolář et al., 2012;Strachan et al., 2013;Seim et al., 2015;Susperregi and Jansma, 2017;Domínguez-Delmás et al., 2018;Nechita et al., 2018;Boswijk and Fowler, 2019). In Southeast Asia, multi-century long chronologies of several species (e.g. ...
Article
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The application of tree-ring research to the study of cultural heritage has seen important conceptual and methodological developments in the 21st century. Following the breakthrough discovery in the 1980s of the importation of timber from the south-eastern Baltic to the Low Countries for panel paintings, the historical timber trade acquired paramount relevance in European dendrochronology. The improvement of methods and tools to locate the area of origin of the wood has since become a focal line of research. Reference chronologies of different variables (ring width, earlywood, latewood, earlywood vessel size in oak, latewood density in conifers, stable isotope chronologies of δ13C, δ18O) are now being developed in areas formerly (and currently) exploited for timber production, and isotopic signatures of 87Sr/86Sr are being mapped to provide a geochemical reference. In parallel, novel techniques to identify wood species (automated wood identification, chemical biomarkers, DNA barcoding) and their application on historical and ancient wood are being explored, given that this could sometimes help narrow down the timber source area. Modern technology is playing a key role in the study of wooden objects through non-invasive methods, and collaboration with (art) historians, mathematicians, engineers and conservators has proven essential in current achievements. Tree-ring series can now be retrieved from high resolution X-ray computed tomography images, allowing the research of otherwise inaccessible pieces. This paper reviews recent advances in those fields (tree-ring based dendroprovenancing, wood species identification, chemical fingerprinting, use of genetic markers, isotopic signatures, and non-invasive methods), and discusses their implementation and challenges in dendroarchaeological studies.
... (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.) dendrochronologically dated (Bråthen, 1995;Gullbrandsson, 2013Gullbrandsson, , 2016Gullbrandsson, , 2017Seim et al., 2015), thus precluding a spatiotemporal assessment of their construction history. ...
Article
The Late Viking Age Swedish runestones are commonly acknowledged as early Christian monuments. Using geostatistical techniques and descriptive statistics, we systematically investigate the regional-to-local spatiotemporal patterns of 1302 ornamentally dated Swedish runestones regarding the timing and speed of the Christianisation process. After quantitative geostatistical analyses of the age distribution patterns of Swedish runestones, we evaluate whether the observed patterns correspond to the pace and pattern of Christianisation, as represented by the presence of mission bishoprics, early church sites, late pagan grave sites and royal estates. We identify seven distinct age groups of runestones and statistically significant regional-to-local spatiotemporal differences in the age and age spread of runestones. The oldest runestones, with the smallest age spread, are found in south-western medieval Sweden, and the youngest, as well as the largest age spread, in the north-east, respectively. We find that runestones are significantly older close to early ecclesiastical sites, regardless of the analytical level, and significantly younger near to late pagan graves. The results obtained are inconclusive as to whether runestones are older near royal estates. Our results support that the spatiotemporal patterns of runestone sites mirror the timing of the Christianisation process and that geostatistical approaches to larger archaeological or historical data sets can add new dimensions to the understanding of the spatial dimensions of past societal changes.
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Although variations in building activity are a useful indicator of societal well-being and demographic development, historical datasets for larger regions and longer periods are still rare. Here, we present 54,045 annually precise dendrochronological felling dates from historical construction timber from across most of Europe between 1250 and 1699 CE to infer variations in building activity. We use geostatistical techniques to compare spatiotemporal dynamics in past European building activity against independent demographic, economic, social and climatic data. We show that the felling dates capture major geographical patterns of demographic trends, especially in regions with dense data coverage. A particularly strong negative association is found between grain prices and the number of felling dates. In addition, a significant positive association is found between the number of felling dates and mining activity. These strong associations, with well-known macro-economic indicators from pre-industrial Europe, corroborate the use of felling dates as an independent source for exploring large-scale fluctuations of societal well-being and demographic development. Three prominent examples are the building boom in the Hanseatic League region of northeastern Germany during the 13th century, the onset of the Late Medieval Crisis in much of Europe c. 1300, and the cessation of building activity in large parts of central Europe during armed conflicts such as the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648 CE). Despite new insights gained from our European-wide felling date inventory, further studies are needed to investigate changes in construction activity of high versus low status buildings, and of urban versus rural buildings, and to compare those results with a variety of historical documentary sources and natural proxy archives.
Book
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The Multilingual Glossary of Dendrochronology is the result of the international effort of 53 scientists who participated in the definition and translation of 351 terms in 7 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian. The compilers have selected terms referring to concepts and methods of dendrochronology, related to wood anatomy, forest ecology and sylviculture, or used in fields resorting to dendrochronologically dated material. Figures and linguistic and technical notes provide further information. A list of sources and a multilingual list of 125 tree species relevant to dendrochronology are given in annex.
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This paper presents updated tree-ring width (TRW) and maximum density (MXD) from Torneträsk in northern Sweden, now covering the period ad 500–2004. By including data from relatively young trees for the most recent period, a previously noted decline in recent MXD is eliminated. Non-climatological growth trends in the data are removed using Regional Curve Standardization (RCS), thus producing TRW and MXD chronologies with preserved low-frequency variability. The chronologies are calibrated using local and regional instrumental climate records. A bootstrapped response function analysis using regional climate data shows that tree growth is forced by April–August temperatures and that the regression weights for MXD are much stronger than for TRW. The robustness of the reconstruction equation is verified by independent temperature data and shows that 63–64% of the instrumental inter-annual variation is captured by the tree-ring data. This is a significant improvement compared to previously published reconstructions based on tree-ring data from Torneträsk. A divergence phenomenon around ad 1800, expressed as an increase in TRW that is not paralleled by temperature and MXD, is most likely an effect of major changes in the density of the pine population at this northern tree-line site. The bias introduced by this TRW phenomenon is assessed by producing a summer temperature reconstruction based on MXD exclusively. The new data show generally higher temperature estimates than previous reconstructions based on Torneträsk tree-ring data. The late-twentieth century, however, is not exceptionally warm in the new record: On decadal-to-centennial timescales, periods around ad 750, 1000, 1400, and 1750 were equally warm, or warmer. The 200-year long warm period centered on ad 1000 was significantly warmer than the late-twentieth century (p<0.05) and is supported by other local and regional paleoclimate data. The new tree-ring evidence from Torneträsk suggests that this “Medieval Warm Period” in northern Fennoscandia was much warmer than previously recognized.
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We overview the recent development of oak dendrochronology in Europe related to archaeology and art-history. Tree-ring series of European oaks (Quercus robur and Q. petraea) have provided a reliable framework for chronometric dating and reconstruction of past climate and environment. To date, long oak chronologies cover almost the entire Holocene, up to 8480 BC and the network over the entire area in which the two oaks grow is being improved. We present the main characteristics of oak ring series and discuss the latest methodological advances in defining the calendar year in which the tree-rings were formed and in interpreting such dating in terms of the age of a wooden object. Dendrochronology has established itself as a standard dating tool and has been applied in a wide variety of (pre-)historical studies. Archaeological wood, historical buildings, works of art (such as panel paintings and sculptures) have been successfully investigated. Recent advances in dendro-provenancing have helped to obtain more information on the timber trade in the past. Information on past forest structures, silviculture and timber use have become available through scrutinizing historical and contemporary ring-width patterns.
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Climate variations influenced the agricultural productivity, health risk, and conflict level of preindustrial societies. Discrimination between environmental and anthropogenic impacts on past civilizations, however, remains difficult because of the paucity of high-resolution paleoclimatic evidence. We present tree ring-based reconstructions of central European summer precipitation and temperature variability over the past 2500 years. Recent warming is unprecedented, but modern hydroclimatic variations may have at times been exceeded in magnitude and duration. Wet and warm summers occurred during periods of Roman and medieval prosperity. Increased climate variability from ~250 to 600 C.E. coincided with the demise of the western Roman Empire and the turmoil of the Migration Period. Such historical data may provide a basis for counteracting the recent political and fiscal reluctance to mitigate projected climate change.
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MASONRY EVIDENCE in the roofless abbey church of Jumièges, Normandy, demonstrates that the original Romanesque roof (c 1067) was of common-tiebeam form, with trusses set at about 1 m intervals, each with a tiebeam carrying rafters. Significant carpentry details can also be determined, including the presence of a cogged wall plate. In the context of this analysis, we examine the form, distribution and date of over 250 common-tiebeam roofs in Northern Europe, identifying four principal types differentiated by their internal bracing, with dates mainly from the early 11th to the later 13th centuries. A chronological sequence is proposed, starting with trusses braced with canted struts devolving regionally into those with vertical struts, those with lattice-braced trusses and those with tiebeams and rafters only. The use of decorated ceilings associated with common-tiebeam roofs is examined, indicating the likelihood that the nave of Jumièges Abbey was ceiled.
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Only few of the Danish medieval parish churches can be dated. This paper presents an attempt of doing so by the help of dendrochronology of a number of church roofs of different types. Results show this is possible although only in cases where original roofs are preserved in a sufficient degree. The typology of church roof constructions has been revisited and so has the general dating of types and their origins.
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A Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) tree-ring width chronology from Jmtland, in the central Scandinavian Mountains, built from living and sub-fossil wood, covering the period 1632 BC to AD 2002, with a minor gap during AD 887–907, is presented. This is the first multi-millennial tree-ring chronology from the central parts of Fennoscandia. Pine growth in this tree line environment is mainly limited by summer temperatures, and hence the record can be viewed as a temperature proxy. Using the regional curve standardization (RCS) technique, pine-growth variability on short and long time scales was retained and subsequently summer (June–August) temperatures were reconstructed yielding information on temperature variability during the last 3600 years. Several periods with anomalously warm or cold summers were found: 450–550 BC (warm), AD 300–400 (cold), AD 900–1000 (the Medieval Warm Period, warm) and AD 1550–1900 (Little Ice Age, cold). The coldest period was encountered in the fourth century AD and the warmest period 450 to 550 BC. However, the magnitude of these anomalies is uncertain since the replication of trees in the Jmtland record is low during those periods. The twentieth century warming does not stand out as an anomalous feature in the last 3600 years. Two multi-millennial tree-ring chronologies from Swedish and Finnish Lapland, which have previously been used as summer temperature proxies, agree well with the Jmtland record, indicating that the latter is a good proxy of local, but also regional, summer temperature variability.
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Thesis (doctoral)--Arkitekthøgskolen i Oslo. Includes bibliographical references. del 1. Hovedbind -- del 2. Katalog og tillegg.
Article
Extra t.p. with thesis statement and English abstract inserted. Thesis (doctoral)--Göteborgs universitet, 1998. Includes bibliographical references (p. [351]-365) and index.
Varnhem before the Monks. Västergötlands Museum
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The agrarian history of Sweden: From 4000 BC to AD
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