Braathen Dendrokronologiska Undersökningar

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Churches in the rural area of Gotland

In their present shape the medieval churches of Gotland were built in the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. In many cases the separate parts of the buildings were built in different periods. The amount of dateable medieval timber varies greatly. In some cases practically all the timber of the roof was removed during the big rebuilding period of the 18th century and replaced by fresh timber. The same is valid for some churches in the 1960-ies and 1970-ies.

As earlier has been described, samples of wood should be taken several times over, so that samples taken during one day of work will be analyzed before further samples are taken, and the result of dating may tell how to proceed in taking new samples. Most of the churches of Gotland where samples of wood by me have been taken have been visited only once, which in many cases means that the work of dating is not finished. Even Garde, that church which has been visited four times still contains timber which is not examined, but which might give more information, e.g. when the western lichgate was built or if it really is medieval.

For many purposes the dating by comparing details of History of Art is sufficient, but dating by means of dendrochronology hopefully is of advantage in special cases, e.g. when trying to connect the erection of a building to a specific historical event or studying the pace of introducing a new element in architecture.

In the following the churches investigated will be presented very briefly because this report does not turn to the general public but to readers who work on subjects where arguments are picked from the physical world.

To the readers who are not familiar with gotlandic churches are recommended descriptions of churches and their fittings, published by Sveriges Kyrkor, RAÄ, P.O. Box 5405 11484 Stockholm. For Gotland the descriptions are collected in four volumes and sixteen separate papers. In the following at the name of the church references to the volume or the paper where the church in particular can be found is put in brackets, e.g. Väskinde (Vol. I) or Lye (Sv.k. 105).



Anga (Vol. IV) church on east Gotland about 40 km from Visby has chancel with apse and a nave which carries the belfry on its western part.

A moulding board (sample no 6) in the relieving arch between the chancel and the apse and a scaffolding timber (sample no 16) date the apse and the chancel. Sample no 16, with waney edge, is in its outermost annual ring dated 1205.

The chancel and the apse might have been completed in 1206. Scaffolding poles (samples no 11, 12, 13) in the eastern wall of the nave all have waney edge and are dated 1239, 1237 and 1240 respectively. All the samples of timber from Anga have been cut in connection with repair and sent to me. The precise location of the timber has not been described to me. The upper part of the east wall of the nave might have been built in 1241.

Sample no 8 is taken somewhere in the belfry. It has a rectangular shape, measures 280x205 mm and has curved corners. It is probable that the edges at the corners mark waney edge because the same annual ring is found in the corners. The outermost annual ring is dated 1253.

As can be concluded from the dating the building faces from east to west has taken place rather slowly. The study of a drawing with measuring plan seems to tell that the church has been built according to an original plan without alterations. We can infer that when the vaults of the nave were erected the shape of the belfry was at least planned. The west wall of the nave has a thickness which is connected to the planning of vaults and belfry. With a repeated on the spot study of the structure the dating of the timber above mentioned might give base for more conclusions concerning the building faces of the church.



Bäl (Sv.K. vol II - III) , parish church about 20 km east of Visby. The chancel deviates slightly from rectangular shape because the northern wall is longer than the southern wall. These walls are not exactly parallel to the corresponding walls of the nave and tower which are built with perpendicular angles.

The archivolt of the round-arched portal of the chancel is composed of alternating dark and light lime-stones. At the place of the key-stone there are three bricks. It is uncertain if these have been put in position as decorative elements when the portal embrace was mounted or after. The two windows of the chancel are framed by bricks.

The portal of the nave has pointed archivolt. The tympanum has arabesques in six fields at two semicircular notches at its lower edge. The capitals are leaf-ornamented.

The portal embrace protrudes very much from the wall and for that reason may have been mounted after the erection of the nave. It is possible to get an answer after investigation as to whether the portal embrace is contemporaneous with the nave or not.

At my visit in 1982 at the church there was a long oak beam with a cross-section of 22x22 cm preserved in a store-room. According to the church-warden the beam earlier had been preserved at the southern wall-head of the nave. A bore-core ('Bäl 2') was taken in the beam at a spot with remaining sap-wood. The bore-core contains four annual rings of sap-wood. The outermost one was dated 1132, which leads to that the felling year of the oak was within 1143 - 1147.

Bore-cores were also taken in capping pieces of oak in the chancel. These could not be dated because of too many narrow annual rings. The beams are the only pieces of oak which I have found in a roof construction from the 13th century or later. Oak is the kind of wood which was mainly used in capping pieces in the 12th century churches in southern Sweden and in western and southern Europe.

Out of the dating result from 'Bäl 2' we may assume that the present church was preceded by a stone church which was erected in the period 1143 - 1147 and that the beam because of its length was an inner capping piece in the nave.

A scaffolding pole, a re-cut pine pole with waney edge ('Bäl 11') under the relieving arch in the western wall of the chancel is dated 1240 and dates the erection of the chancel.

A scaffolding pole, a pine pole with waney edge north of the entrance opening in the eastern wall of the nave is dated 1265 and dates the erection of the nave. The walls in the western part of the nave continue into the tower which probably was erected contemporaneously with the nave.



Burs (Sv.K. 115), church on SE Gotland about 50 km from Visby. The church has a spacious squared chancel with a richly ornamented south portal embrace. Scenes of figures in capital and tympanum have been put to much attention by historians of Art. A lower nave has north and south door-ways. The belfry has ornamented west door-way and gallery.

In the west wall of the chancel a reinforcement timber stretching north-south has been accessible to get a bore-core (sample no 9). Its outermost annual ring is dated 1292. There remains to get a sample from a similar reinforcement timber in the east wall of the chancel. Two pieces of timber in the attic of the nave, a strut (sample no 16) and a loose stump from a joist (sample no 17) which lack waney edge are at their outermost annual ring dated 1184 and 1181 respectively. The belfry contains datable timber but is not examined. The dendrochronological dating of Burs is not finished.



Buttle (Vol. IV) church in the middle part of Gotland about 35 km SE of Visby. Chancel and nave lack visible pieces of timber. Tie beams in the storey above the vault of the belfry have waney edge. Samples no 7 and 8 from these beams are dated 1256 in their outermost annual rings.



Dalhem (Vol. IV) church about 20 km SE of Visby is richly ornamented with stone sculpture, ironwork, stained glass and fittings of fine arts.

Medieval timber has not been found in the chancel and the nave, which seem to have been erected contemporaneously. The lower part of the belfry with gallery is dated by two pieces of timber with waney edge, sample no 18 is taken in floor joist no 2 from east above the lower vault, and sample no 16 is taken from the stump of a beam in the west wall in the store with wooden floor boards. Both pieces are dated 1301. The store room has been fitted later, sample no 12 from a plank in the east wall of the store has at one edge the shape of curvature of the trunk and is dated 1316 in its outermost annual ring. Sample no 15 from the plank close to the east wall has waney edge and is dated 1317.



Ekeby (Vol. I) In the northern wall of the chancel is a credence cupboard, made in gothic style. Its oak-wood is taken from much older timber. Its eastern door contains 196 annual rings in heart-wood. Its outermost annual ring is dated 959. The timber of the church is not examined for possible dating.



Endre (Vol. I), church about 10 km east of Visby. One medieval piece of timber only has been found. It is a scaffolding pole in the eastern wall of the nave. It has a rectangular cross-section with curved corners which were perceived as the curvature of the trunk. Sample no 6 from that piece is dated 1276 at its outermost annual ring. It is most probable that less than 10 annual rings have disappeared from the original trunk. Thus the eastern wall of the nave has been erected within 10 years after 1276.



Ganthem (Vol. IV) church about 20 km SE of Visby. The church has chancel with apse, nave with four vaults and column in the centre and belfry with one lower and one upper vault. J. Roosval (vol IV) describes medieval timber in the chancel and the nave. Since then all medieval timber has been replaced by fresh timber. The nave seems to have been erected at the same time as the belfry, part of which between the two vaults is dated by tie-beams and sill-beams over the lower vault. Sample no 3 from the eastern sill-beam has waney edge and is dated 1249. The outermost annual ring of the western sill-beam is dated 1250. At the place it was judged to have waney edge, but that cannot be proved by microscope. Those trees from which the sill-beams have been formed were cut in different years. It is only a wague guess that the older piece may have been used as scaffolding timber during a building face, but the dating of the sills show that the time lap of building has been more than one year.



Garde (Sv.K 145). The parish church of Garde in the south-eastern part of Gotland contains the oldest pieces of wood that I have dated from any other stone church. The roof structure is made of pine except for the shingles which are made of oak.

The building is described in detail in E. Lagerlöf, Garde kyrka. The book contains 136 illustrations, which are commented in english. On page 343 and 344 is an english summary of the swedish text.

The belfry is joined with bonded dressed stones to the nave. This tells us that these two parts of the building are contemporary with each other, but the belfry has later been made higher, probably when the nave got a gothic roof.

On top of the western part of the nave the main part of the romanesque roof is preserved. The planking of the roof is horizontally arranged and fixed to 17 pairs of main rafters by iron nails. The planks are wedge-formed at the edges so that they cover the edges of their lower neighbours and would prevent raindrop if necessary. There has not been possible to find by certainty waney edges among these planks. Nine samples have been taken from the planks on spots where earlier these have been damaged. The dates of the outermost examined annual rings are distributed as is shown in the following table:

Identification Dates
31 the nave, planking of the roof 1116
2 1114
30 1108
19 1104
3 1092
1 1051
20 1050
4 1037
5 Not dated.


The distribution of the dates of the outermost annual rings show the importance of taking a sequence of samples in a set-up where the timber seems to lack waney edge. Let us assume that we had taken one sample only and that we at random had picked up the sample which gives the date 1037. That date does not give us wanted information. The first four dates are rather compact, and we may assume that the timbers originate from trees which were felled about the same year, but we only know that the earliest possible felling year is the winter season 1116 - 1117. We also know that it is rare to find pines which have grown for more than 400 years. Sample no 31 contains 155 narrow annual rings and we can assume an upper limit for the possible felling year to be in the middle of the fourteenth century. Still the dates in our sequence are not useful unless we can combine them with other facts.

Let us examine how planks were cut from a tree trunk by means of axes and wedges. When cleaving, it was favourable to follow the direction of the wood fibres. That is why straight grown trees were selected. A study of medieval timbers shows that when forming straight lines and surfaces the surface of the trunk was followed as far as possible. For that reason it is important to study the direction of the pattern of the annual rings in a timber in relation to the edges.


We return to the first four dates in our sequence. The difference between 1116 and 1092 is 24 years. we do not know how thick layer of wood was removed from the timber up to where the youngest dated annual ring was reached. That layer might as well correspond to 24 years and we reach a felling year that is about 1140 or the middle of the twelfth century. An examination through microscope of the youngest annual ring gave no sign of cutting from an egg tool. That annual ring might be the closest one to bark, and a study of the edge of the plank which is protected by an adjacent plank gave the impression of waney edge but we do not know.

The three older dates in the sequence differ with 64, 65 and 79 years from the youngest date 1116. Sample no 4 with the date 1037 has a normal ring width of about 1 mm. If this ring width broadly was unchanged in that part which has been cut away we get as result a thickness of 80 mm of the removed wood which is much. Therefore there is reason to suspect that the timbers with the three older dates may have had an earlier felling year, or at least, we can not be certain that they are associated with the still unknown felling year, which is connected to the youngest date 1116.

The discussions presented above are intended to show the importance of taking many samples from a set-up, and that many problems may be involved in the attempt to interpret the result of the dating. In our case we want as much relevant information as possible, e.g. what we know about time-dependant details in the building.

So far our conclusion from the presented 8 dates is that the felling year for the trees is earliest 1116 without a defined upper limit, but where the middle of the fourteenth century has a low degree of probability.

The above mentioned roof was in the gothic period functionally replaced by a roof with a higher rising which explains why the cover of the romanesque roof has been protected from weathering.

It is not possible to determine when the gothic roof was erected because all the timber from that period was removed at a repair in 1968. The cover of the romanesque roof is partly preserved and consists of exceptionally big shingles made of oak. At my visit in 1982 the floor was strewn with broken remains of oak shingles from which I cut samples and put the rest to the place where the piece of wood was found.


Shingles of oak normally are cut from heavy trunks so that the surface of the shingle follow the direction of the wood rays. Trunks with a wide diameter allow two shingles to be cut along the radius which explains why the distribution of dates from shingles, contemporary with each other, is widely spread. The sapwood normally is removed, but in fresh wood the boundary between heartwood and sapwood is not always conspicuous, and sometimes part of the sapwood may still be preserved in that part of the shingle which is protected by its overlapping neighbour.

Referring to the distribution of the number of annual rings in sapwood (See Sapwood and waney edge) where in the middle of Sweden the mean value of the number of annual rings in sapwood is 14 with a standard deviation of +3, -2 years, we get for samples no 11 and no 23 the felling years in the periods 1123 - 1128 and 1120 - 1125 respectively. Usually we get the same limits of the calculated periods of felling for trees which we know are felled at the same time. As result we get that the oak shingles were made in the period 1120 - 1128 and that the building of the nave and the romanesque belfry were complete at that time.


Gerum (Sv.K. 219) church about 40 km S of Visby. The church has chancel with apse, which is older than the nave. The portal embraces are sculptured with plant-shaped ornaments.

A tie-beam from the chancel bonding the truss of the apse has squared cross-section (sample no 3). Its outermost annual ring is dated 1156. As the piece lacks waney edge the dating gives no information because we do not know how many rings which have been removed from the original log. By studying characteristic parts of the building it can be settled that the chancel with apse does not belong to the early period of erection of stone churches on Gotland.

A moulding board (sample no 16) in the relieving arch of the nave, east, has waney edge and is dated 1299. Experience shows that moulding boards may be somewhat earlier than timber from the truss. The boards may have been used already when working on the lower parts of the church. If one wants to estimate the time when the nave has been ready made there should be added one or a few years, which in this case means that we have reached into the first years of the 14th century. When the nave was completed may be of interest in connection with studying mural paintings, but the shape of the building and the stone works probably were decided in the planning period.

The belfry lacks datable medieval timber.



Hablingbo (Literature: E. Lagerlöf, De gotiska portalerna i Hablingbo. Konsthistoriska studier tillägnade Sten Karling. Stlm 1966. G. Redelius, Några gotländska kyrkoportaler. Från romanik till nygotik. Sveriges Kyrkor. Stlm 1991.), church about 42 km S of Visby. The chancel and the nave with sculptured south portal embraces are built in gothic style. The belfry bears traces from the romanesque period. The northern door-way of the nave is richly ornamented in romanesque style and one may assume that it originally belonged to an older nave. Only one sample (no 7) has been dated. It is taken from a stump of a scaffolding pole in the eastern wall of the chancel. The sample has waney edge, and is dated 1310.

If there are any medieval pieces of wood left in the belfry is not investigated.



Hejde (Vol. III) church about 27 km S of Visby. Ten samples from the belfry have been sent to me. Six of these have been dated. All the samples lack waney edge. The youngest year is found in sample no 9 where the outermost measured annual ring is dated 1465. According to a letter, the samples are taken from tie-beams at the crest of the belfry. If the shape and position of the timber had been clearly described, like: 'root end', 'top end', 'waney edge in the timber', 'weathered timber', 'position' etc., it might have been possible to get an upper limit of time when the trees were felled.



Hörsne (Vol. IV) church about 20 km ESE of Visby. Chancel and nave are built in gothic style, spacious and vaulted. Their south portals have ornamented capitals. The western capital of the nave has scenes of figures of artistic quality. Above the pediment (vimperge, the sloping features of the door-way gable) is a stone sculpture, half in relief representing S:t Michael with club and shield. The northern door-way of the belfry is round arched with an unornamented tympanum and may earlier have been door-way of an older nave.

The belfry has two vaults and round arched sound openings with middle columns. The crest of the stone wall of the belfry is lower than the ridge of the roof of the nave.

Remains of medieval timber can be found above the vaults in the three parts of the building. Samples were taken from some of these pieces of timber. One scaffolding pole (sample no 1) in the eastern wall of the chancel has only 35 annual rings and therefore cannot be dated. It has waney edge and would have been of value if it had been supported by a datable piece in the same wall, and waney edge were doubted. Sample no 1 has enhanced correlation with a reference chronology at the position 1286 on the time scale, but certainly that higher value of correlation must not be used. Sample no 9 from a truss underlying plank on the southern crest of the chancel has waney edge and is dated 1289. Samples no 14 and 15 from the eastern wall of the nave both have waney edge and are dated 1290. Samples no 11 and 12 from ex tie-beams or purlins along the middle of the nave have waney edge and are dated 1306. The beams have been part of the truss and rest on short vertical logs which are placed between the vaults. The construction thus is later than or contemporary with the erection or the vaults.

Sample no 20 from a wall board in the wooden store room on the third floor of the belfry has waney edge and is dated 1289. The wall boards investigated have remains of lime fixed to the surface and probably earlier have been used in connection with sand-lime mortar work, one may guess that they have been used as moulding boards. The boards have the same age as the truss underlying plank of the chancel.

In the beginning of this century when repairing the floors of the nave and the chancel the ground stones to an apse, a chancel and a nave were found. The nave had been connected to the present belfry. Observations (see vol IV) show that when erecting the present chancel and nave the builders started with the chancel and made it ready before tearing down the nave.

Dates show that the truss of the chancel might have been ready 1290 (sample no 9) and that the eastern wall of the nave might have been built in 1291 (samples no 14, 15, 17). The purlins along the middle of the nave might have been put into position soon after the vaults became ready. This might have taken place 1307 (samples no 11, 12)

The dating might be of importance for the dating of the south door-ways as they seem to have been mounted at the same time as the erection of the south walls. It should be stressed that we do not know when the chancel was erected, but there is reason to assume that the planning of the chancel and the nave, inclusive the door-ways, has taken place without interruption.

Pieces of wood, possibly medieval, in the belfry are not examined.



Lau (Sv.K 165) parish church is situated about 45 km S.E. of Visby. It is more spacious than was required for the medieval congregation. The nave, built in the first half of the 13th century has nine vaults, six columns and three door-ways. The chancel is slightly wider than the nave, has two columns and six vaults and is rebuilt with remains of an older chancel in its walls. The southern and northern door-ways have been mounted after the erection of the walls. Their design belongs to a school in activity at about 1300. (See Lagerlöf, Redelius, Roosval, articles on door-ways).

The church is richly decorated with stone-works, and the architecture is impressive.

The truss of the chancel is constructed from a model of profiles which can be found in basilicas.

A trestle in central position is a support to the head rafters of the upper part of the roof, while the head rafters of the lower part in one end rest on the sides of the trestle. The lower part of the roofing inclines less than the upper part.

The dating shows that the truss is originally from the time when the chancel was built.

A scaffolding pole in the east wall has waney edge and is dated 1255. Bore-cores from different parts of the truss show that at least the main part of it is medieval and is dated 1258 (waney edge).

One single sample from the truss of the nave was dated (waney edge missing) to the first half of the 18th century. Documents tell that the truss was rebuilt in 1756. Remains of medieval wood from the nave has not been found but cannot be excluded until a thorough investigation has been made.

The nave of Lau is slightly smaller than the nave of S:t Clemens ruin at Visby, but these naves are very similar to each other in design. The nave of S:t Clemens might be contemporary with the tower which was built soon after 1258.



Levide (Future publication by Sv.K) church, about 50 km S of Visby, chancel with apse, nave with three aisles and three transepts. The nave has nine vaults and four columns. The belfry to the west is apparently younger than the nave. The medieval trusses in the chancel and the nave have been replaced by younger timber.

On the southern side of the relieving arch or opening between the nave and the chancel is a rectangular stump of a beam stuck to the wall of the nave (Sample no 8). Its outermost annual ring is dated 1228. It lacks waney edge, which means that the east wall of the nave is younger and we do not know how much younger.

Just above the vault of the belfry in the north-south direction is a tie-beam from which is taken a bore-core with waney edge (sample no 14). It is dated 1269.



Lojsta church, about 45 km S of Visby has squared chancel with three narrow gothic windows with stained glass in the east wall and south door-way, a wider vaulted nave which continues in the west by a belfry with gallery. In the eastern wall of the belfry, seen from the attic of the nave, two older rather long pieces of timber are partly visible. One side has a wide groove, which tells that the pieces have been part of an older building. Samples have not been taken from these pieces.

Sample no 1 from a strut or a rafter in the belfry has waney edge and is dated 1306. In 1981 in connection with repair or maintenance work that sample was sent to me, so the location of the timber is not known. Sample no 3, taken in the western wall at the bells, lacks waney edge, is weathered but has the curvature of the trunk. Its outermost annual ring is dated 1299.

In the nave there are remains from an older truss, re-used as short braces in the present truss. Sample no 9 is taken from an underlying plank 55 cm of length and partly has the curvature of the trunk. Its outermost annual ring is dated 1255. The collecting of samples from the church is not finished.



Lye (Sv. K. 105) church about 45 km SE of Visby has a spacious gothic chancel with three narrow windows to the east and south door-way with figures of scenes in the capitals (compare Hörsne, Martebo and others). The nave in romanesque style has a south door-way and a straight wooden ceiling. The belfry in west has the same width as the nave. Above the vault is a gallery stretching to the three possible sides. On the same level is a small store-room with two walls of vertical planks, which rest on sills with grooves.

Reinforcement beams stretching in the north-south direction in the gables date the chancel. Sample no 9 from the eastern beam has waney edge and is dated 1324. Sample no 10 from the beam in the west wall also has waney edge and is dated 1323. Samples no 3 and 4 are taken from scaffolding poles in the chancel, have waney edge and are dated 1323.

The belfry is dated by two stumps of beams , fixed to the wall, sample no 11 from a stump of beam in the southern wall of the store-room has waney edge and is dated 1216. Sample no 12 is taken from a scaffolding pole in the space above the store-room, has waney edge and is dated 1212. The reason why there is a difference in these two dates is unknown.

Because of lack of time it has not been possible to take samples in the nave. The truss is secondary but contains re-used pieces of timber. The tie-beams and the capping pieces of the wall plate seem to be originally from the time of erection of the nave but probably lack waney edge.



Lärbro (Vol. II) church about 35 km NE of Visby is gothic. Its parts of building have been erected in different periods. The church is richly ornamented, among many other details with a well preserved romanesque tympanum over the entrance to the vestry, richly ornamented south door-ways in the chancel and in the nave and a west door-way with scenes of figures in the capitals of the belfry. All pieces of wood are exchanged in the trusses of the chancel and the nave. Under the upper vault of the belfry a number of scaffolding poles still are preserved. From some of these bore-cores have been taken as well as from some of the horizontal beams. These have waney edge and are dated 1331.

At repair of the spire some samples of wood were sent to me for dating. Sample no 38 has waney edge and is dated 1653.



Martebo (Vol. I) church about 20 km NNE of Visby. It has three with scenes of figures richly ornamented door-ways, south door-ways in the chancel and the nave and north door-way in the nave.

A piece of wood fixed to the east wall of the nave has waney edge and is dated 1295.



Norrlanda (Sv.K. IV:1) parish church about 30 km SE of Visby is richly decorated with stone carvings, wall paintings and iron works. The nave has four vaults but lacks a central column. The main arch supporting the vaults is carried by corbels which are decorated with carved figures. In the south portal of the nave are in the rows of capitals and in the pediment carved figures forming scenes from the Bible. The south portal of the chancel has engaged columns and pointed archivolt.

The lower part of the tower is the oldest part of the building, but the tower has been built higher, apparently in connection with the erection of the present nave. Traces in the west wall of the chancel tell that it is older than the nave. The west wall once has been complete but that part of the gable which is nearest to the ridge has been torn down when building the nave to get a passage.

No medieval wood has been found in the chancel and the nave. Bore-cores have been taken from floor joists at the upper aperture of the belfry. Sample 'Norrlanda 6', from the 2:nd joist from west has waney edge and is dated 1324.



När (Sv. K. 212) church about 55 km SE of Visby. A sample from a floor board in the belfry has been sent to me. It has waney edge and is dated 1301.



Roma (Vol. I) parish church about 20 km SSE of Visby. The squared chancel is built in bond with the nave. The central part of the three-aisled nave (an aisle on each side of the central nave) continues above the vaults with stone walls riding on the pillars of the nave. Those walls are penetrated by relieving archs. The external high profile of the central part is impressive and has lent its shape from the basilica.

S:a Maria at Visby is the only church on Gotland which originally was built as a basilica, but that form of building is rather common on the continent, specially among the gothic cathedrals.

The tradition of building basilicas goes back to to the Roman Empire where the first known building of that kind was built in the second century B.C. It has been excavated at Pompeii and served as a town hall. Three smaller buildings were adjacent to the hall. They had an apsis extending from one wall for the seat of honour of the local lord of court and administration.

Elements of building through the centuries which are inspired from the basilica can be found in churches, where the gothic stave-shurches of Norway are examples. An other example is the roof of Lau.

The dating of the nave of Roma might give better conditions to trace the corresponding building tradition on the continent.

Scaffolding poles, stuck to the upper walls of the nave have been dated. Sample no 13 from the east wall, sample no 14 from the south wall, sample no 15 from the eastern transept at the north wall and sample no 18 from the western transept at the north wall are dated 1269. Sample no 7 from the west wall, sample no 9 from the south wall and sample no 17 from the north wall have waney edge and are dated 1270.

As seen the felling year of the trees (the winter seasons 1269 - 1270 and 1270 - 1271) do not fit into any pattern concerning the position of the pieces of wood in the walls.



Rone (Sv. K. 150) church about 55 km SSE of Visby has a squared chancel with three gothic windows in the east wall, a south door-way with plant-shaped ornaments in the capitals and a door richly ornamented with iron-work. The nave has four high vaults with a column in the centre and a south door-way ornamented in the capitals and a twin door with iron-work. The belfry has a north door-way with sculptured reliefs and a gallery stretching on three sides of the walls. It has seven floors from the ground floor to the crest of the walls. The vestry which probably is contemporary with the chancel has an outside entrance, the embrace of which is sculptured.

Samples of wood have been taken from four stumps of beams which are stuck to the south wall above the vault of the belfry. One of these (sample no 26) has waney edge and is dated 1313.



Stenkumla (Vol. II - III), parish church, is situated about 10 km south of Visby. The belfry has arch galleries on its southern and northern sides, to the west a round arched door-way and at about the same level as the galleries a round window with five round openings forming a cross. The lower set of sound openings are round arched with middle columns. The upper sound openings have pointed arches. The nave has four vaults supported by a central column. The south door-way has pointed arch and carved plant ornamentations in the capitals. The chancel has a round arched south door-way of which the side posts rest on the plinth.

On Gotland it is common that stone elements from an older church are re-used in the present building. In that respect Stenkumla is no exception.

Four samples of wood from the belfry are dated, but none of them has waney edge. The outermost annual ring in sample 'Stenkumla 8' is dated 1218. It is taken from a vertical pole, east, supporting the vault under the lower sound openings. According to a notation in the field diary the pole has waney edge, but that information could not be ascertained by examining the sample. One or a few annual rings might have been missing.

A stump from a scaffolding pole in the eastern wall of the nave has waney edge and is dated 1275.

The truss of the chancel is not medieval, but the outer side of the east wall contains mantle stack beams from the building period.



Sundre, church close to the south end of Gotland is a sandstone church with squared chancel, nave which seems to be contemporary with the chancel and belfry the crest of which is two storeys higher than the roof ridge of the nave. In the church ornamented boards, painted in the Byzantine style have been preserved.

Sample no 5, is taken from a stump of a pole stuck in the east wall of the nave, just south of the opening in the east wall to the attic of the chancel. If there is waney edge can not be settled, but the pole has the curvature of the trunk. Its outermost annual ring is dated 1221.

In the belfry five floor joists have been dated. The joist no 3 from east above the vault has waney edge and is dated 1273.



Tofta (Vol. III) church about 15 km S of Visby. Its chancel and nave are built in gothic style. The roofs over chancel and nave have been raised in modern time, probably in the 20th century. The remains of lower roofs are not medieval. The belfry has five storeys. The room just above the vault has a height of about 1.5 m only (because of changing of level of floors). In that space wooden pieces which seem to be medieval are stored. Among these pieces samples no 8 and no 9 have been taken from two loose hand-hewn floor-boards with straight halved side edges. Sample no 8 is dated 1238 and sample no 9 is dated 1233 in their outermost annual rings which lack waney edge.

On level three in the belfry sample no 1 has been taken from a stump of timber fixed to the south wall. The timber has chamfered shape in two corners. On spot the surfaces of the two corners were perceived as waney edge but that could not be confirmed at closer look through microscope. Its outermost annual ring is dated 1228.

Sample no 7 from a stump of beam in high position in the wall at the bells is dated 1269 at its outermost annual ring which was judged to have waney edge.

The different dates of samples no 1 and no 7 should be noticed.



Vallstena (Vol. II - III) parish church, about 25 km east of Visby, is one of those gotlandic churches where planned extension of the church has been interrupted and not fulfilled. The chancel and the eastern part of the nave ('the younger nave') are younger than the western part of the nave ('the older nave') and the tower.

Apparently the building of a new church was planned to take place in stages so that all the time there would be space for the service of the congregation. The old chancel was torn down, and the eastern part of a new wider nave and a more spacious chancel were built. Meanwhile the old nave could be used for service. For some unknown reason making the new nave complete was not proceeded.

A beam to the south in the west wall of the relieving arch of the chancel has waney edge and is dated 1313 (sample 'Vallstena 10'). In the younger nave a former capping piece with stumps from tie beams rests on the vault. One of these stumps ('Vallstena 5') has waney edge and is dated 1320.

The belfry is built in bond with the older nave. The stone-stairs in the passage from the south-west end of the nave to the upper vault, just under the level of the bell, are built in the walls. In that passage the seams between the stones are visible, and there is no trace of rebuilding.

Bore-cores have been taken from the oak-beams at the level of the bell. The beams are contemporary with each other and with the walls. Some of them rest with their ends in original mortar in the walls.

A bore-core ('Vallstena 11') in the oak-beam close to the south wall has 9 annual rings in sap-wood. The outermost ring is dated 1243. Thus the felling year of the oak is estimated to be in the period 1248 - 1253. Bore-cores from two other beams give date to the same period.

If we assume that the older nave is contemporary with the belfry, we find that the parish after only about 60 years needed more space in the church.



Väskinde (Vol. I) church, about 10 km NE of Visby is built in gothic style. The squared chancel has three narrow gothic windows and south door-way with remains of lime paint and with ornamented capitals. The nave has an ornamented south door-way and two groin vaults, thus without a column in the centre. The belfry has the same width as the nave and seems to have been built in bond with the nave. The belfry has north door-way with unornamented tympanum and galleries facing north and south. The stone wall of the belfry ends lower than the ridge of the roof of the nave.

In 1983 I got 24 samples of wood from floor-boards with straight halved side edges of medieval type. The boards were stored in the parish of Bro, and according to information they had been exchanged by new floor-boards in the nave of Väskinde and discarded, whereafter they were taken care of by a farmer. Samples no 14 and no 15 from the floor-boards have waney edge and are dated 1281.

Along the crest of the south wall of the chancel two long beams rest without present function. The longer and heavier of the two pieces has waney edge and is dated 1300. Outside the outermost measured annual ring is the early-wood of the next annual ring where late-wood is missing and apparently never has been developed. That outermost ring is dated spring 1301.

The bell-chamber is carried by eight vertical wooden masts above the vault of the belfry. Bore-cores have been taken from the two north-western masts. The curvature of the trunk is found in one of the corners but it lacks waney edge. Sample no 38 from the north-western mast is dated 1296 in its outermost annual ring.



Väte (Vol. III) gothic church about 20 km S of Visby. The chancel has three narrow windows facing east and capitals with plant-shaped ornaments in the south door-way. The nave is three-aisled with nine vaults which are supported by four columns. The gable field of the south portal has a relief of Christ on his throne. In the east capital there are sculptured scenes of figures and in the west capital are plant-shaped ornaments. Strewn in the south wall there are from an older church ashlars with relief-shaped figures. The embrace of the north portal has relief figures from the same older church. A planned belfry never was built and has been replaced by a bell-tower riding on the western part of the nave.

The original trusses are replaced and very few pieces of medieval wood remain. Wooden stumps in the gables of the chancel are dated. Sample no 25 from the east wall and sample no 19 from the west wall have waney edge and are dated 1253.