Photograph of tree trunk cross-section
Section through oak tree trunk showing annual rings © Historic England
Section through oak tree trunk showing annual rings © Historic England

Charcoal and Wood Work Group

The Charcoal and Wood Work Group (CWWG) is aimed primarily at British specialists, working on British or international material. The group aims to foster communication and dissemination of ideas between specialists engaged in different studies of historical wood utilisation, such as wood-working technologists and wood anatomists, and also between those employed as freelancers or in commercial units and universities, as well as students.

CWWG meetings

Next meeting

Following the success of our waterlogged wood recording-themed meeting in York in June 2023, we would ideally like to hold an equivalent meeting for wood charcoal as the theme of our next work group’s session. Please contact Dana Challinor if you would like to host this or if you have ideas and offers to host a meeting on a different theme.

Minutes of previous meetings

CWWG weblist and contact for the group

The Charcoal and Wood weblist provides a digital forum for discussion, the dissemination of notices about conferences, meetings and publications, and promotes communication with international colleagues and researchers.

The CWWG can be contacted through the weblist or contact Dana Challinor direct: [email protected]

Useful resources

1) Identification text and keys

Books and journal articles

  • Gale, R and Cutler, D 2000 'Plants in archaeology: identification manual of artefacts of plant origin from Europe and the Mediterranean' Otley: Westbury Publishing
  • Hather, J 2000 'The identification of the northern European woods: a guide for archaeologists and conservators' London: Archetype Publications
  • Phillips, EWJ 1941 ‘The identification of coniferous woods by their microscopic structure’ Journal of the Linnean Society of London, Botany 52(343), 259–320
  • Schweingruber, FH 1990 'Microscopic Wood Anatomy: Structural Variability of Stems and Twigs in Recent and Subfossil Woods from Central Europe' [digital reprint available]
  • Schweingruber, FH 1990 'Anatomy of European Woods: An Atlas for the Identification of European Trees, Shrubs and Dwarf Shrubs' [digital reprint available]

Online databases

Charcoal and/or wood collections

2) Sampling and recording methodologies and resources

Books and journal articles

Online resources

Wood recording sheets

Historic England is creating a series of wood recording sheets to help standardise the recording of features and characteristics commonly encountered on archaeological wood (waterlogged and charcoal). Currently, two sheets for recording wood anatomical features for the basis of wood identifications (of NW European taxa) are available:

If you have any comments and suggestions on these, please email the author.

3) Historic England research reports

Historic England produces reports publishing results of research carried out both internally by in-house specialists and that commissioned to external specialists. You will be able to find reports relevant to wood and charcoal analysis using the keyword search facility on the research reports homepage.

Historic England also produces regional reviews on specialist subjects, of which the wood/charcoal ones are:

4) Wood identification training courses

Below is a list of some wood identification courses available. Note that inclusion here is not necessarily an indication of endorsement by Historic England – interested parties will have to make their own enquiries and form their own opinions.

5) Relevant conferences and meetings

  • Anthraco2023, Porto, Portugal – 8th International Anthracology Meeting
  • Anthraco2019, Liverpool, UK – 7th International Anthracology Meeting
  • Anthraco2015, Freiburg, Germany – 6th International Anthracology Meeting
  • Anthraco2011, Valencia, Spain – 5th International Anthracology Meeting

Zoë Hazell

Senior Palaeoecologist

Ruth Pelling

Senior Archaeobotanist
  • Address

    Fort Cumberland,
    Fort Cumberland Road,