Braathen Dendrokronologiska Undersökningar

Stave churches in Västergötland

In addition to these stone churches mentioned above, timbers from four stave-churches in Västergötland have been dated by means of annual rings in oak-wood.

Hedared. The still existing stave-church of Hedared is situated 15 km north-west of Borås. The nave measures 7.3x6.0 m and the square chancel 3.3x3.3 m. The height to the eaves measures 4.3 m and to the ridge 9.5 m. The ornaments are sparse and are limited to mouldings on the corner pillars. The building is in detail described in Ekhoff, Svenska Stavkyrkor 1914.

Bore-cores have been taken from 11 different points in the building. The dates show that all the examined timbers are contemporary with each other except one small piece of reused timber. The south breast timber hammer brace of the nave has 3 annual rings preserved in sapwood. The outermost ring is dated to 1488 which by extrapolation gives a felling year in the period 1498 - 1503. One single piece of wood, a short brace between the trusses of the nave and the chancel is not contemporary with the rest of the examined timbers. It is reused and has marks from burning and probably has been cut from a strut. It consists of heart-wood in oak and has 59 annual rings. Treatment of the dates by computer points a peak of correlation with a standard reference at the year 1087 for the outermost annual ring.

The magnitude of the peak is satisfactory but not the number of rings for a judgement that the piece of wood is dated. The slight number of annual rings gives a small degree of probability that some annual rings by random have grown so that they support the high value of the peak of correlation in a false position for dating. A darker colour and microscopic crystals indicate that the piece of wood is much older than the rest of the timber.

Hällestad, Kinnaromma, Vänga. At Historiska Museet, Stockholm, is preserved timber from the former stave-churches of Hällestad, Kinnaromma and Vänga. All the timber consists of oak and lacks sapwood. The later fact makes it impossible to find a reasonable limitation of the period within which the felling year of the trees has taken place unless more information is added. When taking bore-cores, two kinds of timber have been looked for, one which gives a long sequence of annual rings for secure dating and the other which contains part of a cylindrical curvature like part of a tree-trunk. When sapwood is missing 9 years can be added to the youngest dated ring in heart-wood to obtain the oldest possible year after which the tree has been felled. The investigation of the timber gave the result that the stave-church of Hällestad was built after 1133, Kinnaromma after 1120 and Vänga after 1059. The timber of these churches is described in Ekhoff, Svenska Stavkyrkor...1914.

Vänga. About ten years after that investigation more wood from the stave-church of Vänga was discovered. A barn in the church-yard of Vänga consists of wood, staves and beams from a building which was erected after 1059 and probably in the period 1063 - 1065. Some other staves came from oaks, which were felled in the first half of the 13th century. The dates of these were contemporary with dates of earlier dated floor-boards, found in the church of Vänga. From the dates it is possible to suggest that a building in stave-technique was erected or extended after 1236 and probably in the period 1240 - 1243. That building contained re-used staves and other timber of construction from an older building. The barn also contains timber, felled in 1642. As the barn until 1905 was porch to a stone church which was torn down that year it was possible to get that church dated. (A discussion of the timber of the stave-church of Vänga is published in Västgöta-Dal 1987. The article is put in swedish).