The analysis of timber frames can reveal a great deal about a building's provenance. The evolution of building techniques, tools, and layout methods can offer insight about a structure's origins. Some details, like the marriage marks pictured here, are more obvious than others. The wood itself contains a more definitive record a building's age. This can often be revealed through dendrochronology.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines dendrochronology as:
"The science or technique of dating events, environmental change, and archaeological artifacts by using the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings in timber and tree trunks."
Using this technology, it is possible to determine the felling dates of timbers used in the construction of timber-framed structures with a high degree of accuracy. Typically, early American structures were cut and erected while the wood was still green, often within a year of felling, making dendrochronology a valuable tool in the discovery of construction dates and the interpretation of historic buildings.
Transom provides coring services for the submission of samples to Dr. D W H Miles FSA of the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory located in Mapledurham, UK. The Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory works closely with the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford University and has dated many prominent historic structures throughout the United States and the UK. More information about Dr. Miles, dendrochronology, and the laboratory can be found here. For information about rates and determining whether a structure might be a good candidate for sampling, please contact me directly.