Letter | Published:

Relation of abnormal earlywood in oaks to dendrochronology and climatology


TREE-RING investigations in Europe are largely based on the method initiated by Huber in 1938 at Tharandt (near Dresden)1 by which the widths of the rings are measured and the resulting sequence charted and compared both visually and by computer. In temperate zones such as England and the Low Countries oak panels are ideal for the study of dendrochronology as they were prepared from the butt logs of elite trees of slow and even growth. A panel used as a support for a painting has the added advantage that its edges are accessible2. Since 1971 I have worked on 115 of those used by portrait painters in South-east England or Flanders between 1450 and 1620 (refs 3, 4). The boards (there are more than one on some panels) have an average of 200 rings of mean width 1.5 mm.

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  1. 1

    Huber, B., Handbuck der Mikroscopie in der Technik, 5, 171–211 (1970).

  2. 2

    Bauch, J., and Eckstein, D., Stud. Conserv., 15, 45–50 (1970).

  3. 3

    Fletcher, J. M., Tapper, M. C., and Walker, F. S., Archaeometry, 16 31–40

  4. 4

    Fletcher, J., Burlington Mag., 116, 250–258 (1974).

  5. 5

    Fletcher, J. M., in The British Oak, (edit. by Morris, M. G., and Perring, F. H.), 80–97, (Classey, Faringdon, 1974).

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    Longman, K. A., and Coutts, M. P., ibid., 194–221 (1974).

  7. 7

    Hennig, R., Abh. preuss. met. Inst., 2, No. 4 (1902).

  8. 8

    Lamb, H. H., The Changing Climate, 94–102 and 181–188 (Methuen, London, 1968).

  9. 9

    Lamb, H. H., Endeavour, 33, 40–47 (1974).

  10. 10

    Flohn, H., in Die Schwankungen und Pendlungen des Klimas in Europa (edit. by H. v Rudloff), 81–90 (Viewegverlag, Braunschweig, 1967).

  11. 11

    Becker, B., Jb. Akad. Wiss. Lit. Mainz., 143–145 (1972).

  12. 12

    Schmidt, B., Archaöl. KorrespBl., 1, 155–158 (1973).

  13. 13

    Pilcher, J. R., Tree-Ring Bull., 33, 1–5 (1973).

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