Braathen Dendrokronologiska Undersökningar

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Dendrochronology on Gotland


The project 'Dendrochronology on Gotland' started 1979 on the initiative taken by Ragnar Engeström, antiquarian at Riksantikvarieämbetet (The National Board of Antiquities).

The objective of the project was to serve existing research programs. W. Falck, antiquarian and administrator, had earlier published an article on prospects and research plans (Literature: W. Falck, Medeltidsarkeologi på Gotland, Fornvännen 71)

According to Engeström, a number of scholars would get a considerable help if they could get some fixed dates from medieval artefact. The dates available from written sources are too few because very few medieval documents are preserved.

For 3 years he sent to me current wood-samples, mainly from medieval buildings. Because of anomalies in the growth of the pine trees the samples were difficult to date, and the share of dated wood was very low. It seemed to be possible to create local reference-chronologies which could reflect some deviations in the growth of the trees, e.g. caused by high degree of lime-stone in the soil or very small depth of the soil.

In 1982 I visited the island for the first time collecting wood-samples. Altogether I have been working there 19 times. Engeström and I have collected about 1200 samples of wood from Visby and about the same amount from the rural areas. All the work of administration and all contacts with authorities have been made by Engeström, and he has also continuously covered the exchange of timber in old buildings at repairs.

Since 1974 Engeström has collected material for scientific use, and he intends to publish investigations on building development on Gotland.

All the wood samples taken by me on Gotland have been delivered to the National Board of Antiquities 'Undersökningsverksamheten Gotland' P.O. Box 2063, 62102 Visby for preservation.

When taking samples the exact position of the timber and observations of interest have been recorded in a field diary. Facts from that diary have continuously been transferred to a register which is preserved by Undersökningsverksamheten Gotland.

The department 'Kulturvårdsenheten' at the County Administrative Board 'Länstyrelsen' gives information on how to get necessary permit for taking wood samples.

December 1995
Alf Bråthen