SCOT2K A 2000 year native pine tree-ring record for Scotland

Mar Lodge native pine : C Mills 2013

Native pine at Glen Derry, Mar Lodge Estate. Copyright C Mills 2013

A 2000 year tree-ring chronology for native pine in Scotland: that is the exciting objective of the NERC-funded SCOT2K Project led by Dr Rob Wilson at the University of St Andrews. I am delighted to have been appointed as a part-time Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews to work on this 3-year project which has just gone live.I shall be continuing my freelance work in Dendrochronicle alongside this part-time post.  In SCOT2K I’ll be working with Rob and his team at St Andrews, and with collaborators in other institutions, on extending native Scots pine dendrochronological coverage to the last two millennia for Scotland – for climate reconstruction & cultural heritage objectives. I shall be focussing on obtaining native pine timber samples from Scotland’s built heritage, especially in the pine heartlands, to augment periods when the ‘natural’ tree record is thin due to historic woodland exploitation. An annually resolved 2000 year climate record for Scotland will have much to offer many fields of interest including archaeology, history and environmental science.

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Dendrochronology masterclass

Old Wood of Drum stump

Oak stump, Old Wood of Drum: Copyright C Mills 2013

Delighted to have been invited to speak about dendrochronology in the Scottish cultural sphere for the 36th series of the Architectural Conservation Masterclasses, University of Edinburgh. Details and bookings for all the lectures in the 2013 programme through this link

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Peter Quelch on Rural Romania

Copyright Peter Quelch

Romania - Rimet house with shredded ash: Photo P Quelch

Communities in parts of rural Romania retain a more collaborative, integrated and traditional approach to living on the land than survives in western Europe, though now under immense pressures of change.  Peter Quelch, native woodlands expert and Dendrochronicle colleague, has recently visited Romania and shares his thought-provoking observations in this illustrated account (PDF document). A striking aspect is the integration of woodland and agricultural use, with wood pastures and leafy fodder in evidence, and the survival of a vibrant traditional wood-working and wood-using culture; there is much here to help us understand our landscape’s history and perhaps to shape its future.  Peter’s visit was with a group supported by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme’s, ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ (VETPRO).
mobility project ‘Cultural Heritage and Training’.

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Cree Valley Woodland Heritage Seminar

CVCWT woodland heritage seminar

Discussion on a charcoal platform at Cree Valley Wood: Copyright C Mills 2012

It was a great pleasure to be part of the Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust’s seminar on Woodland Heritage held in and around Newton Stewart, Galloway, on 7th & 8th June 2012, an event supported by the Community Woodlands Association amongst others. The seminar included morning talks, many by local experts, followed by afternoon site visits to the Cree Valley and Knockman’s woods, rich cultural woods with rather differing but equally interesting site histories. These will be teased out further in CVCWT’s new woodland heritage project, a community-led project being funded by HLF amongst others. I look forward to following its progress on


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Woodland workshop – Cairngorms Community Heritage

Loch Pityoulish oaks copyright C Mills 2012

Loch Pityoulish oaks: Copyright C Mills 2012

One of the site visits on our woodland heritage workshop on 31st May 2012 for Cairngorms Community Heritage programme (led by RCAHMS, supported by Cairngorms National Park, workshop tutors Peter Quelch & Coralie Mills) was to an overgrown old oak coppice wood at Loch Pityoulish. The many tree-forms made for interesting discussions amongst the group who embodied wide ranging interests and expertise.  Our visit provided a first glimpse into the history of these woods, a legacy of the expansion in oak planting about 200 years ago, with great potential for further exploration and research.

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Dendrochronology workshops announced

Two new Dendrochronicle one-day workshops have been announced, full details on the Events page, and bookings are now open. One is on tree-ring dating in archaeology (12th July) and one on tree-rings & tree-forms in wooded landscape studies (13th July), both in East Lothian in association with the Rampart Scotland archaeology fieldschool.

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Historic Woodland Survey FCS dayschool

Peter Quelch explains tree forms at Callendar Wood: Photo copyright C Mills 2012

On 20th April 2012, Peter Quelch & Coralie Mills led a dayschool arranged by Matt Ritchie (FCS archaeologist) to introduce our approach to Historic Woodland Survey. The day was attended by several FCS staff and representatives of other institutions including Piers Dixon of RCAHMS and Jan Kolar, a prehistorian who is engaged in a woodland archaeology research programme in the Czech Republic. We spent the day in the field introducing our approaches at Callendar Wood near Falkirk, and Balgownie Wood near Culross in West Fife, which have been the subjects of recent studies undertaken by Dendrochronicle for FCS.  They differ in origin, with Balgownie being a late medieval plantation over a medieval broad rig field system, once in the possession of Culross Abbey, while Callendar Wood most probably evolved from a wooded medieval hunting park, though with working facets evident such as historic forestry and coal mining. They are both extremely complex cultural wooded landscapes rich in archaeology and veteran trees, and by retaining tree cover over a long period have become islands of archaeological and biocultural preservation in the otherwise much altered central belt. This demonstrates the potential for similar preservational oases to be discovered in other long-standing lowland Scottish woods.


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Trossachs Woodland Heritage

The Trossachs are so rich in historic woodlands and cultural landscapes, a theme we explored in a Dendrochronicle training workshop and guided walk this weekend (tutors Peter Quelch & Coralie Mills). Our hosts, the Trossachs Landscape Heritage Network and the Great Trossachs Forest, are involved in developing community landscape history/archaeology projects in the area, and have further training events lined up over the next few months. Our introductory Woodland Heritage workshop on Saturday looked at woodland history, archaeology and tree-forms, especially in old oak coppice, and was followed by the guided walk to Glen Gyle on Sunday where we explored the astonishing alder wood pastures and their associated old settlement remains.

Photos: Copyright C Mills 2012




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Trossachs Woodland Heritage Events announced

Glen Gyle wood pasture

Glen Gyle wood pasture@ Photo copyright C Mills 2012

Events for 2012 are being firmed up, amongst the first being in the Trossachs with an Introductory Woodland Heritage Workshop on 3rd March and a guided walk to Glen Gyle’s wood pastures and archaeology, near Loch Katrine, on the 4th March. More details on the Events page.

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Christmas greetings

Coralie's Christmas wreath

Coralie's native wreath. Copyright C Mills 2011

We have a long tradition in Britain of bringing in native tree greenery at Christmas, most surely connected to ancient mid-winter celebrations.  The photo shows the fresh wreath I made at a workshop this week, and uses native yew, ivy and birch bark hearts. It is posted here by way of a Christmas Greeting to all of Dendrochronicle’s friends. Its been an exciting year, with the chance to meet many new people and to get to know some more historic woodlands through new projects. Wishing you all a happy and fulfilling New Year. Coralie.

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