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Background and activities

DENDROCHRONOLOGYDendrochronology is a method used for studying tree-rings. The growth of trees often reflects annual variations in climate. Trees from the same species will thereby often have a matching pattern of annual tree-rings over large areas. In Norway the growth of conifers often correlates with the annual variation in summer temperature.


A warm summer normally provides a wider tree-ring than avarage, a cold summer a narrower tree-ring while an avarage summer has average growth. This will over a long period produce a tree-ring pattern unique for those years. A matching of the growth pattern from a sample with long tree-ring chronologies will thereby enable us to identify the actual period the tree was growing and thereby to perform a dendrochronological dating. If the number of tree-rings is sufficient and the outermost tree-ring is present in the sample, which can be seen if the bark is intact, dating of the felling year can be performed using dendrochronology.

The basis for dendrochronological activity is the construction of absolute tree-ring chronologies as far back in time as possible. Matching the tree-ring pattern from two samples from trees grown during the same period is called cross-matching. Matching the tre-ring pattern from a sample of unknown age to a tree-ring pattern related to calendar years performs a dating. By starting with living trees a long chronology back in time can be constructed by overlapping of successively older tree-ring series.

Before a house can be dated it is normal procedure to take samples from at least 10 different logs, and to construct a mean curve from the logs that contain a matching tree-ring pattern. This is necessary, as tree-ring growth is also sensitive to other environmental factors then climate.

As the tree-ring pattern matches the summer temperature, long tree-ring chronologies are known to contain valuable information on climate, thus giving rise to the sub-field of dendroclimatology, which studies climatic variations back in time.

Since tree-ring growth is also sensitive to many other environmental factors like pollution, geomorphological changes, river floods, etc. other sub-fields also exist, such as dendroecology, dendromorphology and dendrohydrology, which study the ecology of biotic communities, geomorphic processes and the history of flooding.

























































Scientific, academic and artistic work

A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database

Journal publications

  • Thun, Terje; Svarva, Helene Løvstrand. (2016) Dendrochronological analysis of 19 Norwegian grain chests. Dendrochronologia. vol. 37.
  • Cook, Edward R.; Saeger, Richard; Kushnir, Yochanan; Briffa, Keith R.; Büntgen, Ulf; Frank, David; Krusic, Paul J.; Tegel, Willy; Schrier, Gerard van der; Andreu-Hayles, Laia; Baillie, Mike; Baittinger, Claudia; Bleicher, Niels; Bonde, Niels; Brown, David; Carrer, Marco; Cooper, Richard; Cufar, Katarina; Dittmar, Christoph; Esper, Jan; Griggs, Carol; Gunnarson, Björn; Günther, Björn; Gutiérrez, Emilia; Haneca, Kristof; Helama, Samuli; Herzig, Franz; Heussner, Karl-Uwe; Hofmann, Jutta; Janda, Pavel; Kontic, Raymond; Köse, Nesibe; Kynci, Tomàs; Levanic, Tom; Linderholm, Hans; Manning, Sturt; Melvin, Thomas M.; Miles, Daniel; Neuwirth, Burkhard; Nicolussi, Kurt; Nola, Paola; Panayotov, Momchil; Popa, Ionel; Rothe, Andreas; Seftigen, Kristina; Seim, Andrea; Svarva, Helene Løvstrand; Svoboda, Miroslav; Thun, Terje; Timonen, Mauri; Touchan, Ramzi; Trotsiuk, Volodymyr; Trouet, Valerie; Walder, Felix; Wazny, Tomasz; Wilson, Rob; Zang, Christian. (2015) Old World megadroughts and pluvials during the Common Era. Science Advances.
  • Thun, Terje. (2014) Mineraljordlagene i Trollheimen er ikke interglasiale - var Trollheimen uten vegetasjon under istidene?. Blyttia : Norsk botanisk forenings tidsskrift. vol. 72 (4).
  • Thun, Terje; Stornes, Jan M. (2014) Dendrokronologiske dateringer fra 2013 og 2014. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen. vol. 168.
  • Nordeide, Sæbjørg Walaker; Thun, Terje. (2013) "Kvart menneske som døyr skal me føra til kyrkja og grava i heilag jord" : Kristen gravplass i myr fra tidlig middelalder. Historisk Tidsskrift. vol. 92 (2).
  • Stornes, Jan Michael; Thun, Terje; Bartholin, Thomas Seip. (2013) Ny kunnskap om stavkirker ved måling av årringbredder på fotokopier. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen. vol. 167.
  • Stornes, Jan M.; Thun, Terje. (2012) Dendrokronologiske dateringer fra Østlandet. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen. vol. 166.
  • Thun, Terje; Storsletten, Ola. (2011) Out of fashion and out of mind; some puzzles in building history solved by means of dendrochronology. AmS-Varia. vol. 53.
  • Mathisen, Kjell Marius; Thun, Terje; Stornes, Jan Michael. (2010) Dendrokronologiske oppdateringer fra Oppland. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen. vol. 164.
  • Thun, Terje. (2009) Norwegian dendrochronology; almost a victim of the Black Death. AmS-Varia. vol. 49.
  • Thun, Terje; Alsvik, Elling. (2009) Dendrochronological dating of four chests: A surprising result. Dendrochronologia. vol. 27 (1).
  • Thun, Terje; Mathisen, Kjell Marius. (2009) Dendrokronologiske dateringer fra Maihaugen. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen.
  • Nesje, Atle; Dahl, Svein Olaf; Thun, Terje; Nordli, O; Nordli, Øyvind. (2008) The ‘Little Ice Age’ glacial expansion in western Scandinavia: summer temperature or winter precipitation?. Climate Dynamics. vol. 30 (7-8).
  • Stornes, Jan M.; Thun, Terje. (2008) Nye dendrokronologiske dateringer. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen.
  • Myhr, Kjersti; Thun, Terje; Hytteborn, Håkan. (2007) Dendrochronological Dating of Wooden Artefacts using Photography. Norwegian Archaeological Review. vol. 40 (2).
  • Thun, Terje; Stornes, Jan M.. (2007) Dendrokronologisk datering av Raulandsstua. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen.
  • Stornes, Jan M.; Berg, Arne; Thun, Terje. (2006) Nye dendrokronologiske dateringer. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen. vol. 160.
  • Thun, Terje. (2006) Summer climate and conifer growth in mid-Norway: Chronologies from ancient construction timber compared with historical data. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift. vol. 60 (4).
  • Thun, Terje. (2005) Norwegian conifer chronologies constructed to date historical timber. Dendrochronologia. vol. 23.
  • Thun, Terje; Stornes, Jan Michael. (2003) Nye dendrokronologiske dateringer. Årbok / Fortidsminneforeningen. vol. 157.