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Dendrochronological analysis of an English chest: contributing to knowledge about wood supply and chest production in 16th century England

Domínguez-Delmás, M; Bridge, M; Visser, ASQ; (2021) Dendrochronological analysis of an English chest: contributing to knowledge about wood supply and chest production in 16th century England. Dendrochronologia , 67 , Article 125828. 10.1016/j.dendro.2021.125828. Green open access

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Abstract

Historic furniture has a great ethnographic and historical value, as styles and designs responded to specific uses, fashion trends and the social status of the buyer or the commissioner. Placing it in an exact chronological and geographical production context increases our knowledge about preferences for materials, designs, and woodworking practices for household commodities. Here we present the results of non-invasive dendrochronological research carried out on an English chest from a private collection. The chest is of a hybrid construction, with boarded sides and back, and a joined front with four carved linenfold panels. It had been described as made of Baltic oak and dating to the mid-16th century, a crucial transition period for which only a few early chests have been analysed. Our results demonstrate, however, that the wood from the lid, side boards and back originates from the south of England. Heartwood/sapwood border in the left side board has allowed an estimated felling date for the tree of between 1520 and 1552. Terminus post quem dates of the rest of the elements pre-dating this interval indicate that the chest was likely made in the second quarter of the 16th century, as initially described. Three linenfold panels show typical features of Baltic wood, whereas the fourth one has different characteristics and could have been made with English oak, but the lack of access to the tree-ring patterns hampers verifying this hypothesis. Mixture of provenances suggests a production workshop in London, although other town in the south with a major timber market cannot be discarded. The construction features are described, and two distinct marks found in the chest are discussed in the regional context of its production. To allow the compilation and inventory of such marks, the ‘Marks on Wood’ community has been created in Zenodo and is presented here.

Type: Article
Title: Dendrochronological analysis of an English chest: contributing to knowledge about wood supply and chest production in 16th century England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.dendro.2021.125828
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.dendro.2021.125828
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Non-invasive dendrochronology; Tree-ring dating; Timber provenance; English furniture; Marks on Wood
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10125723
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