(Netherlands Centre for Dendrochronology, Amersfoort, The Netherlands)

Abstract: Dendrochronology is concerned with the study of annual growth patterns in wood. Dendrochronological data can improve our knowledge on past climates, landscape development, socio-economic relations and settlement dynamics.

Currently within the “Wood Use in the Early Middle Ages” (WUEM) project dendrochronology is used to refine our knowledge about the chronology and trade activities of the Early Medieval trade centre of Dorestad (NL) and improve our understanding of the Early Medieval Low Countries.

Dorestad has been the subject of continuous research for over thirty years, which makes it one of best documented and largest excavations in the Netherlands. Many find categories from Dorestad (e.g. glass, pottery, metal) have been studied in detail and extensively published. Although wood is an extremely important source of information about site chronology and economic activity, wood research of Dorestad was limited. A main reason being that at the time of the early excavations dendrochronology was not as an established research method in the Netherlands as it is now.

A lot of wooden samples from these earliest excavations to Dorestad have disappeared, but some remain preserved in the depot of the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. Within the WUEM project we are analysing selections of this material to re-evaluate the wooden archive of Dorestad. The resulting data will be combined with other research data from the NWO/Dorestad: Vicus Famosus project, recent excavations, and tree-ring data from other Early Medieval sites in the region. Analysis of the whole assemblage of Early Medieval wood will result in a greatly improved understanding of site-development processes and trade relations in the Early Middle Ages.

The research was funded by the Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research (NWO). Additional support was provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency, the Netherlands Centre for Dendrochronology (RING Foundation), NWO/Dorestad: Vicus Famosus project, and Utrecht University.

Keywords: Dendrochronology, old excavations, Early Middle Ages