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Last Updated: Friday, 18 April, 2003, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
New report changes history
Llanidloes market hall
The market hall is dated to about 1612
An historic mid Wales church has given up a 400-year-old secret thanks to new timber-dating techniques.

A new report proves that timber used to build part of a mid Wales town's church did not come from a nearby monastery.

The people of Llanidloes have long thought that the roof of the local parish church was built using timber taken and carried the 15 miles from Abbey Cwmhir.

But a soon-to-be published report by scientists shows that timber used to build St Idloes parish church roof was cut after the monastery was closed by Henry VIII in 1536.

This proves that the roof is post-dissolution and constructed for Llanidloes parish church and not re-used from Abbey Cwmhir."
Dan Miles

Earlier this year Dan Miles of the Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory took timber samples from the nave roof and bell tower of the church as well as the old Market Hall in the town.

The width of each ring was measured and compared to dated reference samples to discover when the trees that provided the timber were felled.

"The dendrochronology shows that the tree used for the roof was felled in the late summer or early autumn of 1538," said Mr Miles.


"This dating confirms the 1542 date inscribed on two of the carved angels on the roof.

"This proves that the roof is post-dissolution and constructed for Llanidloes parish church and not re-used from Abbey Cwmhir."

Timber used to build the church belfry was dated to about 1593.

The old market hall was also sampled and the wood used for the posts was dated to between 1612 and 1622.

St Idloes church roof
The roof of the nave was built after 1536

But two other posts were dated to a much earlier date; one between 1540 and 1568 and the other between 1548 and 1578.

"Clearly these have been re-used from an earlier building and incorporated in the present building when it was built in the 17th century," said Mr Miles.

Bell ringing

The buildings were investigated at the request of Dr Charles Kightly, who has organised a timber-framed building exhibition at the old Market Hall which opens in June.

"These results quite clearly show that the roof of the church did not come from Abbey Cwmhir because nobody would fell timber for the roof of a defunct monastery," said Dr Kightly who believes the roof could be the last mediaeval angel roof built in Britain.

The church belfry is the first one in mid Wales to be tested using dendrochronology.

"The later Elizabethan period saw a growing interest in bells and bell ringing so it is interesting that the Llanidloes belfry dates from this period," added Dr Kightly.

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