Research Interests


From analyses of wood found in historic buildings and on archaeological excavations, I work with questions about timber as a building material, trading commodity, resource (abundant or dwindling) and as an indicator of trade contacts between regions in Northern Europe over the last ca. 2000 years. The precise dating and identification of area of origin that are obtained by these tree-ring analyses, coupled with the find context and usage of the timber (castle, church, ship, barrel, art object, etc.) enables a very nuanced and detailed cultural-historical interpretation.


Chronology, Culture and Archaeology (CCA). Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (IEF)

From June 2011 to June 2013, I have worked on material from medieval fishtraps on the Fergus Estuary, Co. Clare, Ireland. I have attained high-precision chronology from tree-ring studies of these wooden structures. This analysis contributes to a comprehensive understanding of changes in the exploitation of the river resources over time and of the form, structure and life-spans of wooden fishing structures, including their repair and abandonment year by year - all at a chronological resolution normally impossible to discern in conventional archaeology. This project was hosted by UCD School of Archaeology, where these estuarine remains are currently being investigated. The tree-ring analysis has been integrated into the stratigraphical, environmental, tree-species and morphological analyses of the structures. This project is providing one of the key tools through which past human-environment interactions can be modelled at varying chronological scale of seasons, years and decades.


Bosch and Bruegel

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Denmark I have been carrying out dating and provenance analysis of painted oak panels. This work is providing insights into the procurement and supply of oak panels, from the medieval period onwards, to the Dutch and Flemish painting industry. (Daly, A; Läänelaid, A (2012) 'The dendrochronological dating of three paintings in the style of Bosch/Bruegel' In: Hermens, E (eds). On the Trail of Bosch and Bruegel: Four Paintings under Magnification. Glasgow: Archetype Publications/SMK.)


DendroCT, non-destructive dendrochronological dating

I have had success in carrying out dendrochronological analysis using non-destructive methods, in cooperation with Professor Jan Bill from Oslo University, thereby attaining precise dates for wooden archaeological objects without needing to damage the object in any way. The results of this breakthrough are published (Bill, J., Dalen, K.S., Daly, A. & Johnsen, Ø. (2012) ’Dendro CT - dendrochronology without damage’, Dendrochronologia, 30 :223-230). Using the techniques developed, additional analyses of wooden artefacts from the famous Viking Age ship burials at Oseberg and Gokstad in Norway have been possible, and the results of this is on its way.


Ph.d., awarded 2007

In my Ph.D. thesis, I set out to describe and improve the method by which the region of origin of historic oak timber is identified. I worked with historic oak tree-ring data kindly shared by dendrochronology laboratories in Northern Europe, and demonstrated that it is possible to locate the provenance of timbers in quite marked detail. On the basis of a range of case studies, where the methodology was applied to timbers from ancient shipwrecks and barrels, I was able to describe the patterns of the increasing trade in timber in Northern Europe, from early medieval to early modern times, and describe the balance between regions with timber shortages and regions with surplus.