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Tree rings help date Sweden's oldest wooden home

Paul O'Mahony · 26 May 2009, 17:07

Published: 26 May 2009 17:07 GMT+02:00

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With the aid of dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, the Dalarna province's leading museum has shown that the timber used to build the house dates from the year 1237.

"We're delighted. There has been speculation about this since the 1920s and we have drilled and carried out tests twice before, but this is the first time we were able to confirm the date," Jan Raihle, the head of Dalarnas Museum, told The Local.

The house is a so-called eldhus (literally "fire house"), a one-room building with a fireplace in the centre.

Though currently located at Zorns Gammelgård (Old Farm), part of an estate donated to the Swedish State by the artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920), the house has previously been moved at least five times.

The farmyard on the banks of Lake Siljan is made up of around 40 houses and was designed by Anders Zorn to showcase the province's old log building traditions.

Since the mid-1990s, Dalarnas Museum has been working with dendrochronologists to date the province's impressive stock of timber houses from the Middle Ages.

"There are of course very old wooden houses all over Sweden, but Dalarna has by far the most. So far we have dated around 150 houses to the period from the 1200s to the 1500s," said Jan Raihle.

But although the Mora house is the oldest wooden residential home, it is not the oldest non-religious wooden building in the country: that honour goes to an outhouse attached to Ingatorp Church in Småland in southern Sweden.

Story continues below…

Carbon 14 and dendrochronological studies both date the Ingatorp building to 1229, plus or minus ten years.

"It's now used as a shed for lawnmowers and such like but it may originally have been used as a weapons store," said Lennart Grandelius, who carried out the study in association with the University of Lund.

See also: Photo gallery - Ingatorp outhouse

Related links:

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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Your comments about this article

21:07 May 26, 2009 by spy
A slow news day??? How long before The Local reports that 'a cat was caught up a tree in Gothenburg'?

Please Bob you have a good site here but I fail to see who you were trying to reach with this article.
22:02 May 26, 2009 by "green Swede"
He was trying to reach me among others,I think it's quite interesting to know and or see that there's an intact WOODEN structure in sweden that's on it's its way to been a THOUSAND years old.back home thousand year old structures are not exactly uncommon but not wood built.if only those walls could talk.But lawnmowers....c'mon,surely a building like that should be listed or have i read that sometimes only the exterior of the bulding is actually listed.strange.
02:40 May 27, 2009 by nolaroger
i think it's fascinating that they're able to pinpoint the oldest dwelling in sverige. it takes you back to the age of vikings, and the beginnings of the glory that was, and is the swedish state.
06:59 May 27, 2009 by odinmp5
finally something i like at thelocal.se.

im gettign tyred of pirate and inmigrant storys.
13:15 May 27, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
Fascinating! A wooden structure that is 770 years old!

Yes it is significant, so was spy really unimpressed or was he just trolling?
13:34 May 27, 2009 by Miss Kitten
Editor Bob has nothing to do with the news content of The Local. Any suggestions/complaints/issues should be brought to the attention of the news editor, Paul O'Mahony paul.omahony@thelocal.se
18:12 May 27, 2009 by spy
I would like to retract my comments and apologise I have caused offence to those people who are obviously deeply interested in the growing number of wood stories.
18:51 May 27, 2009 by Mzungu
At least it's factual,not like many a thread presently yo-yo'ing hither and tither....

*would image it has outlived many a so called modern architectural abode*
23:02 May 27, 2009 by Nuname
I'd assume so considering it was built before them and is still standing.
08:05 May 28, 2009 by Mzungu

Mmm... yeah right what ever!

*smart ass* :need sustenance:
08:31 May 28, 2009 by Inletwatcher
Oh hell, guess I am alone on loving that article!! Happy breath of fresh air it was, and I read it to my whole family, instead of reading them details of the latest axe murder, etc.

Got me thinking about our cabin, which was moved by my partners Father back in the 70's. The cabin was dated 1897. Only the bottom row of logs had to be replaced when they moved it, and they hewed the logs in the same old fashon so they matched.

Guess I am alone, in thinking that NOT everyone wants to read about blood, and politics all the time. I love'd' that story...and wish for more of the like. One day I shall go take pictures of that lovely old shack before its destroyed by folks that don't care for history.

09:05 May 28, 2009 by Inletwatcher
Someone who just joined the 12th of this month.

Such a deeply enlightning poster! One more of the smart ones join SNIE.

10:26 May 28, 2009 by spy

How does my joining on the 12th of this month make my comments any less valid than yours?

OK so you don't see my point of view - fair enough.

To be honest I don't really get excited about hearing how you read this story to your whole family, and then waxed on about old logs for a couple of paragraphs - but did I make a judgment about you?
11:02 May 28, 2009 by Inletwatcher
My problem is not with you in particular SPY, my problem is how you are a new poster, and for you to bash my friend Bob the unloved, neglected Editor! Sorry for my boring you with my tale of kitchen talk, it was definatly NOT my intention to excite you.

Please, feel free to make use of the power to ignore me, given to you, by editor BOB.

No excitement here, go back to your pee'd in cereal now.

11:10 May 28, 2009 by spy
I can see you have other problems so I think I will ignore you.
11:11 May 28, 2009 by Miss Kitten
Okay, take it easy people. There's no reason to deride Spy just because doesn't get turned on by (really) old wood. And he was in no way "bashing" Editor Bob. He actually wrote that the site was good:

"Please Bob you have a good site here ..." Seem courteous enough, eller hur?
11:12 May 28, 2009 by 7
eh, just to repeat what miss kitten mentioned. bob edits/moderates the forum and has no part of deciding content for the news site. that would be editor paul.
11:12 May 28, 2009 by Inletwatcher
LOL oh I love this!!! whoo hooo I just love getting under someones feathers... comfy in here


Okay kitten, I will mind my manners and go back to my hole in the woods.

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