Isotope Dating Examples

We work in partnership with heritage managers, local history groups and the dendrochronology community to support the dating of timber-framed buildings and wooden artefacts. Below you will find some applications of the stable isotope dating method developed by the team. These case studies include the dating of series with short or invariant ring series, managed/disturbed growth or non-oak timbers (including elm). A list of Stable Isotope Dates is published annually in Vernacular Architecture (2019 List; 2020 List)  

England

A Hidden Passage at the Palace of Westminster, London

Isotope dating provided a felling date of winter 1659 for timbers preserved in the passage, indicating its modification for the Coronation procession of Charles II. In partnership with Historic Royal Palaces.

Parliament Coverage | BBC News Coverage 

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Portcullis Windlass, Tower of London, London

An application of the isotope dating method to micro-cores and elm timbers. Dating confirmed that the original winding gear mechanism had been replaced, with the present arrangement dating to 1656/7, a period when records kept by the Protectorate Parliament were particularly poor. Isotope dating has helped to reveal a phase of activity previously unknown in the history of the Tower. In partnership with Historic Royal Palaces.

Journal Article

Portico, The Vyne, Hampshire

Dating fast-grown oak timbers from The Vyne to the winter of 1655/6 confirms that they are a part of Webb's original portico, and now shown it to be the oldest such example on an English country house. In partnership with the National Trust.

National Trust Coverage

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Wales

Llwyn Celyn, Main Hall and Outbuildings, Monmouthshire

One of the first applications of the isotope dating method revealing timber felling dates of 1420/21 for the primary phase. In partnership with the Landmark Trust.

Journal Article | Channel 4 Documentary

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Sluice Gates, Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire

The discovery of two sluice gates during restoration of former Regency Landscaping, (felling date summer 1789). In partnership with the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Mynachlog Fawr, Ystrad Fflur, Carmarthenshire

A felling date range of 1662-1698 was obtained from the Farmhouse at Strata Florida. In partnership with the Strata Florida Trust. [Image by (c) Richard Suggett]