Dendrochronological evidence for the early trade in timber between the British Isles and the American colonies

Anne Crone, David Brown, Dan Miles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Dendrochronology is beginning to identify small amounts of imported American white oak (Quercus alba) in 18th and early 19th century contexts in the British Isles. The oak has been found in a variety of contexts; in buildings in Scotland and England, in boatwrecks in Dublin and the Western Isles of Scotland, as well as in a four-poster bed. American oak in 19th century contexts is not unexpected; the Napoleonic Wars and the blockade of Baltic trade routes forced the British government to look elsewhere for their timber supplies and America, with its vast forests, was the obvious source. However, some of the oak found in Scottish and Irish contexts is much earlier, predating the American War of Independence. Dendroprovenancing suggests that a major early source was the Boston area in eastern Massachusetts, but later timber was also coming from further south, from New York and Pennsylvania.
One of the reasons for the establishment of the American colonies was they would be able to furnish England with the timber that was increasingly in short supply at home. However, the focus of this early trade was the provision of masts for the British Navy and while this has been extensively researched (Albion 1926) very little is known about the early trade in non-naval, ie domestic timber products between America and Britain. The growing tree-ring dataset therefore has the potential to provide information on the nature of this trade, the type of timber being imported and its final destinations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuroDendro 2017, Tartu: Book of Abstracts
EditorsAlar Laanelaid
Place of PublicationTartu
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2017
EventEURODENDRO 2017 - Tartu, Estonia
Duration: 06 Sep 201710 Sep 2017


ConferenceEURODENDRO 2017
Internet address


  • Dendrochronology


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