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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Tree-ring dating used on chests
medieval chest
The tree-ring dating team take samples from the medieval chests
A number of ancient wooden church chests are to be analysed for the first time by a tree-ring dating team.

The Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory team aim to date the medieval chests at Mendlesham, Chevington and Earl Stonham churches in Suffolk.

They will take a small sample from the chest and measure the rings against samples which have already been dated.

The team previously discovered that a Saxon door at Westminster Abbey is the oldest door in Britain.

Project leader David Sherlock said: "Church chests are almost the only remaining movable class of objects still to be found in parish churches that date to the Middle Ages, many of the chests are very large making them difficult to move.

"So, they can still serve their original function as strong boxes; for the preservation of church valuables against the ravages of theft and time."

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