Monday, 11 November 2019

Stave churches in Norway older than thought

Hopperstad Stave Church in Sogn og Fjordane county is dendro-dated to 1131-1132. Previously, the date was estimated at 1125-1250 
[Credit: Jan Michael Stornes]

Recently, researchers have used a different measurement method called photodendrometry. With this technique, the material can be photographed in place. The method has the advantage of not needing to take core samples, and scientists can photograph large amounts of material in a protected building and procure larger amounts of data. This provides more precise knowledge of the estimated construction date, because it allows wood that cannot be core sampled to also be dated.

Through the Stave Church Preservation program headed by the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage, dendrochronologists at NTNU received money to study the country's stave churches more closely. The program has yielded results.

"We now know the age of some stave churches almost to the year," says Terje Thun. He is an associate professor at the NTNU University Museum in Trondheim. Thun is one of the country's foremost experts in dendrochronology, or tree ring dating.

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