Ships and their timber source as indicators of connections between regions

  • Aoife Daly
Keywords: dendroprovenance, high-precision chronology, timber trade, timber exploitation


The precise dating and determination of the source of timbers in shipwrecks found around the coasts of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, through dendrochronology allows us to see connections between north and  south, east and west throughout the region and to a high chronological precision. In this paper we take a look at results of recent analyses of timber from ships, and timber and barrel cargoes, to try to draw a chronological picture, from the twelfth to seventeenth centuries, of links between regions, through transport in oak ships and trade of timber. Archaeological finds of oak from timber cargos in shipwrecks and fine art objects (painted panels and sculpture) show the extent to which timber was shipped from Hanseatic towns along the southern Baltic coast, to western and north-western Europe.


von Arbin, S. 2012. A 15th-century bulk-carrier wrecked off Skaftö, Western Sweden, in N. Günsenin (ed.), Between Continents. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, 67–74. Istanbul: Ege Yayınları.

von Arbin, S. and Daly, A. 2012. The Mollö Cog re-examined and re-evaluated. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 41(2), 372–389.

Auer, J. and Maarleveld, T. 2013. Skjernøysund Wreck 3 Fieldwork Report 2011. Esbjerg Maritime Archaeology Reports 5. Esbjerg: University of Southern Denmark.

Baillie, M. G. L., Hillam, J., Briffa, K. R. and Brown, D. M. 1985. Re-Dating the English Art-Historical Tree-Ring Chronologies. Nature 315, 317–319.

Baillie, M. G. L. and Pilcher, J. R. 1973. A simple crossdating program for tree-ring research. Tree-Ring Bulletin 33, 7–14.

Bonde, N., Tyers, I. and Ważny, T. 1997. Where does the timber come from? Dendrochronological evidence of timber trade in Northern Europe, in A. Sinclair, E. Slater and J. Gowlett (eds), Archaeological Sciences 1995, 201–204. Oxford: Oxbow books.

Bråthen, A. 1982. Dendrokronologisk serie från västra Sverige 813–1975. Rapport Riksantikvarieämbetet och Statens historiska museer 1982(1). Stockholm.

Crone, B. A. 2008. Dendrochronological analysis of the oak and pine timbers. Stirling Castle Palace. Archaeological and historical research 2004–2008. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland.

Crone, B. A. 2011. Carnock House, Stirling. Dendrochronological analysis of the painted oak beams. Unpublished AOC Archaeology Group report.

Crone, B. A. and Gallagher, D. 2008. The medieval roof over the Great Hall in Edinburgh Castle. Medieval Archaeology 52(1), 231–260.

Crone, A. and Mills, C. M. 2012. Timber in Scottish buildings, 1450–1800: a dendrochronological perspective. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquities of Scottland 142, 329–369.

Crumlin-Pedersen, O. 2000. To be or not to be a cog. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 29(2), 230–246.

Daly, A. 2007a. Timber, Trade and Tree-rings. A dendrochronological analysis of structural oak timber in Northern Europe, c. AD 1000 to c. AD 1650. PhD thesis, University of Southern Denmark.

Daly, A. 2007b. The Karschau Ship, Schleswig-Holstein: Dendrochronological Results and Timber Provenance. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 36(1), 155–166.

Daly, A. 2009. The chronology of cogs and their timber origin, in R. Bockius (ed.), Between the Seas. Transfer and Exchange in Nautical Technology, 237–248. Proceedings of the eleventh International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, Mainz 2006. Mainz: RGZM Verlag.

Daly, A. 2011a. Barcode vrag 5, vrag 8 og vrag 14, Oslo. unpublished report 2011:24.

Daly, A. 2011b. Dendrochronological analysis of oak from a shipwreck, Skjernøysund 3, Mandal, Norway. Chronology, Culture and Archaeology report 2, University College Dublin (unpublished).

Daly, A. and Läänelaid, A. 2012. The dendrochronological dating of three paintings in the style of Bosch/ Bruegel, in E. Hermens (ed.) On the Trail of Bosch and Bruegel: Four Paintings under Magnification, 47–55. Copenhagen: Archetype Publications.

Daly, A. and Nymoen, P. 2008. The Bøle Ship, Skien, Norway – Research history, dendrochronology and provenance. International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 37(1), 153–170.

Eckstein, D., WaŻny, T., Bauch, J. and Klein, P. 1986. New evidence for the dendrochronological dating of Netherlandish paintings. Nature 320, 465–466.

Gundersen. J. 2012. Barcode Project: Fifteen Nordic Clinker-Built Boats from the 16th and 17th Centuries in the City Centre of Oslo, Norway, in N. Günsenin (ed.), Between Continents. Proceedings of the 12th International Symposium on Boat and Ship Archaeology, 75–80. Istanbul: Ege Yayınları.

Gøbel, E. 2010. The Sound Toll Registers Online Project, 1497–1857. International Journal of Maritime History 22(2), 305–324.

Hillam, J. and Tyers, I. 1995. Reliability and repeatability in dendrochronological analysis: tests using the Fletcher archive of panel-painting data. Archaeometry 37, 395–405.

Jansma, E., van Lanen, R. J., Brewer, P. W. and Kramer, R. 2012. The DCCD: a digital data infrastructure fortree-ring research. Dendrochronologia 30(4), 249–251.

Johannessen, J. 2009. Statusrapport 1.2 Kulturmiljø Skjernøysund. Arkeologiske undersøkelser ved Skjernøysund, Mandal kommune, Vest Agder fylke. Unpublished report.

Kelly, P. M., Leuschner, H. H., Briffa, K. R. and Harris, I. C. 2002. The climatic interpretation of pan-European signature years in oak ring-width series. Holocene 12(6), 689–694.

Klein, P. 2005. The use of wood in Rembrandt’s workshop. Wood identification and dendrochronological analyses, in M. van den Doel, E. van de Wetering, N. van Eck and G. Korevaa (eds), The Learned Eye. Regarding Art, Theory and the Artist’s Reputation, 28–37. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Leuschner, H. H., Sass-Klaassen, U., Jansma, E., Baillie, M. G. L. and Spurk, M. 2002. Subfossil European bog oaks: population dynamics as indicators of changes in the Holocene hydro-regime and climate. Holocene 12(6), 695–706.

Litwin, J. 1985. The Copper ship of Gdansk bay: recent discoveries from the wreck, cargo and site, in J. Haarmann and J. Bracker (eds), 5th International Congress of Maritime Museums Proceedings 1984, 42–49. Hamburg: Herman Kampen.

Scheltjens, W. F. Y. and Veluwenkamp, J. W. 2012. The Sound Toll Registers Online: Introduction and First Research Examples. International Journal of Maritime History 24(1), 301–330.

Spurk, M., Leuschner, H. H., Baillie, M. G. L., Briffa, K. R. and Friedrich, M. 2002. Depositional frequency of German subfossil oaks: climatically and nonclimatically induced fluctuations in the Holocene. Holocene 12(6), 707–715.

Wazny, T. and Eckstein, D. 1987. Der Holzhandel von Danzig/Gdansk – Geschichte, Umfang und Reichweite. Holz als Roh- und Werkstoff 45, 509–513.

Ważny, T. 2002. Baltic timber in Western Europe – an exciting dendrochronological question. Dendrochronologia 20(3), 313–320.
How to Cite
Daly, A. (2020). Ships and their timber source as indicators of connections between regions. AmS-Skrifter, (27), 133-143.
  • Abstract 220
  • pdf 127