at the cathedral have discovered that many of the timbers in the
roof come from Ireland and there are more of them than at first
more, the numbers involved suggest there was a dispute with the
local timber suppliers, which forced the cathedral authorities to
look further a field in order to complete their thirty year building
project on time!
a sophisticated tree-ring dating procedure, scientists working
for English Heritage have proved to the year - and even the
season - when the trees were felled.
roofs of the eastern chapels are built from oak timber dating back
to the spring of 1222 and heralding from the forests surrounding
Marshall of English Heritage's Scientific Dating Service said: "The
findings are among a raft of significant results to come from research
commissioned for a programme of major repairs grant aided by English
Heritage and the Salisbury Cathedral Trust. They will greatly increase
our understanding of major historic buildings and are likely to
have a profound effect on how they are repaired in future."
the batten boards, which support the leading, date back over 700
years - surviving exposure
to the weather during the civil war of the 1650s when the lead was
stripped from the roof and used for musket shot.
Miles of the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory, who has undertaken
the dating work for English Heritage suspected the boards' very
the past boards like this would have been disregarded because they
were generally thought to be replacements for the old ones thrown
out when lead was stripped. Dendrochronology is beginning to show
more and more detailed information about the importance of such
material," he said.
of the wood in the North porch roof has revealed the earliest
and one of the finest crown post roofs in the country. Here
and on the east chapel roofs is evidence of the earliest known
use of Arabic as well as Roman numerals to mark timbers for
for the cathedral's construction is known from documents to have
come from as many as 16 different forests across Wiltshire and Hampshire
as well as Herefordshire. Some trees were at least 300 years old
when they were felled. One tree had a first ring date of AD 908.
dates established confirm that Salisbury, considered by many to
be the epitome of Early English church architecture and the largest
and most Complete 13th century masonry building in Britain, was
built almost entirely to a single design. The first foundation stones
were laid in AD 1220 and the whole cathedral was completed before
its consecration in 1258 an astonishingly short time for such a
Tatton Brown, consultant archaeologist to Salisbury Cathedral who
has conducted extensive research into its history and initiated
the dating project, said: "This very important new series of dates
from dendrochronology has given us, for the first time, an independent
sequence of dates for the whole of the cathedral."
Miles and Tim Tatton Brown