Sapwood estimates in the interpretation of tree-ring dates

Malcolm K. Hughes, Stephen J. Milsom, Pat Leggett

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Many timber finds lack some or all of the outer, sapwood rings formed in the years just before felling. In order to estimate felling date once the outermost remaining ring has been dated, it is necessary to estimate the number of sapwood rings originally present. Methods doing this for oak are reviewed in the light of an intensive study of living trees at one site and an extensive study of 175 samples from living trees in North Wales and northwest England. Some methods reported in the literature are found to be invalid. A method reported by Hollstein (1965) is most reliable, with modifications for known variations in sapwood number with position in the tree. At present the best available estimate is that a value of 30 sapwood rings be used (95% confidence limits: 19-50).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-390
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1981
Externally publishedYes


  • Dendrochronology
  • Felling date
  • North Wales
  • Northwest England
  • Oak
  • Sapwood estimation
  • Timbers


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