The Day The Dendrochronologists Came!

Here is an account written by Lisa of a recent visit by a team of Dendrochronologists from the Nottingham Tree Ring Dating Laboratory (NTRDL).  We will let you know the results when they’re in!

The attics of Town Farm have not seen so much activity for decades (if not longer) but yesterday the Dendrochronologists arrived with Duncan James, the buildings chronologist. Those of you who have attended one or both of the talks Duncan gave regarding the older buildings of Abberley will know what a fascinating man he is.

The Dendrochronology team from NTRDL and Duncan James

The Dendrochronology team from NTRDL and Duncan James

His talks have been one of the highlights of the Medieval Abberley Revealed project as he has been able to offer a fascinating insight to so many of the houses in the village. Indeed some of the information he has uncovered has made us rethink the history of those buildings. Thankfully, Duncan has put his work into a report that will be a record of his research and discoveries, an important and lasting reference for everyone to be able to use and build upon in the future. It is the most comprehensive study to be undertaken in the area. I recommend you read it. Houses that we often pass by will come magically to life from the inside out , you may never again view them in quite the same way.

During his survey of the many houses around Abberley he visited Town Farm. Climbing high up into the attics he was able to see that these had been domesticated quarters and remains of doorways, windows, floor boarding and plaster work were evident. Fortunately many beams were true to the original building of the house. These are beams in good condition that had not been reused (as many of the beams in our own house had) and had not been replaced. He decided that it would be beneficial to try and date these beams. Many of the other houses surveyed Duncan had been able to have a definite date of construction. Other houses did not provide enough original beams to effectively date.

So the dendrochronologists came! They carefully selected the beams to be bored and set to, only to be thwarted by the first beam, when the core extracted showed massive growth years of the original oak tree. The scientists require at least 80 rings or years of growth to accurately date the tree; these big growth spurts prevented that. Fortunately there were many other good beams and the extremely hard physical task of drilling a core out of centuries hardened oak beams continued. They hardly left the dusty dark attics for hours as they continued with their task cheerfully, they even had a flask of tea up there.

Preparing to start work!

Preparing to start work!

When they emerged they showed us the oak cores that they had been able to obtain. They looked like a cross between cigars and giant worm casts but they will hopefully provide us with the answers to when the farm house was built. Labelled up and sent off to the lab we look forward to hearing the results.

Samples of beams taken by the Dendrochronologists

Samples of beams taken by the Dendrochronologists

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