Institute of Archaeology


Dendrochronological dating of chests

Many chests in churches, cathedrals, abbeys and private collections are of great age, but many languish in damp conditions, full of junk, and relatively uncared for. Most are assumed to be made locally, but increasing dendrochronological evidence shows that many were constructed from wood imported from the Baltic (mostly from modern Poland).

A study of Westminster Abbey chests for English Heritage, and dating work for a book on Suffolk church chests, along with other individual examples, has prompted a review of what we know about these often overlooked items.

Micro-coring techniques have enabled boards of over 20mm thick to be investigated.

Related outputs

  • Bridge, M.C. (2012) Locating the origins of wood resources: a review of dendroprovenancing. Journal of Archaeological Science
  • Miles, D. and Bridge, M. (2008) Westminster Abbey, London, tree-ring dating of the chests and fittings, Research Department Report Series, 3/2008.
  • Sherlock, D. (2008) Suffolk Church Chests, Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, Ipswich.
  • Bridge, M. and Miles, D. (2011) A review of the information gained from dendrochronologically dated chests. Regional Furniture XXV, 25-55.


  • English Heritage (Westminster Abbey chests)
  • Society of Antiquaries (Suffolk chests)