Tree-ring dating

  • Posted On: 31 October 2019
Tree-ring dating

A report about a project that aimed to scientifically determine the felling dates of oak timbers in old field barns and farmhouses in the Ingleborough area has been published by Clapham-based charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).

As part of the Tree-ring Dating Programme, oak timbers from fifteen buildings - thirteen barns and two farmhouses - were subjected to tree-ring dating. For technical reasons the timbers in four buildings were unable to be dated, but the timbers in the remaining eleven buildings provided a total of 45 felling dates. The results were surprising: the full date range spans the period 1259 to 1774. Only five timbers post-date the year 1700, and seven (from different timbers in the same building) pre-date the year 1300, which is much earlier than anticipated. Given that received knowledge - and not just in the Yorkshire Dales - has suggested that the majority of field barns were erected in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, this set of results is groundbreaking.

The project has made a significant contribution to the understanding of traditional farm buildings in this part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and also includes a typology of field barns and an explanation of the methodology behind tree-ring dating.

David, who has researched and written extensively about the archaeology and history of the Yorkshire Dales, said: “Without the willing co-operation of all the landowners, house owners and tenant farmers the project would not have happened."

Chris Lodge, Stories in Stone Project Officer, added: “We’re delighted to have been able to support the publication of this fascinating book. It includes a wealth of information about an important aspect of Dales life and is full of interesting details.”

The A4, 99-page softback report costs £9 (including UK delivery) and can be ordered from YDMT by telephoning 015242 51002 or emailing, and is also available online from

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