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

Scientific Dating

The Scientific Dating Team oversee scientific dating as part of projects funded through the Heritage Protection Commissions Programme.

We conduct research and commission radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology, and other forms of scientific dating such as archaeomagnetic and luminescence dating. We provide Historic England and others with a comprehensive range of advice on the practical application of scientific dating.

Scientific dating includes a range of biological and physical methods for assessing the time when things happened in the past. The best known and most often used techniques are radiocarbon dating and dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating. On this page you can find out about the Scientific Dating Team and the work we fund.

Dendrochronology

Cases eligible for tree-ring dating generally fall into one or more of these five categories:

  • Part of projects funded under the National Heritage Protection Plan (2010-2015) and the Historic England Action Plan
  • In receipt of grant-aid for repairs
  • On the Historic England at Risk register
  • The subject of a statutory decision in which Historic England is involved (eg thematic or responsive designation, Listed Building Consent application, public enquiry)
  • An English Heritage guardianship property

Please contact the team if you are unsure whether your case is eligible or not.

Radiocarbon dating

We provide radiocarbon dating services as a grant in-kind to projects funded by Heritage Protection Commissions, and also in support of other projects and cases funded by Historic England.

Radiocarbon date lists

Historic England, formerly English Heritage, produce catalogues of radiocarbon dates for the projects we fund. These provide full technical details of all the radiocarbon dates funded during period covered by each volume.

Who we are

Alex Bayliss

Head of Scientific Dating at Historic England

Alex leads on all scientific dating activity for Historic England including development of corporate policy and national standards. She specialises in constructing precise chronologies for archaeological sites and finds through the statistical modelling of radiocarbon dates.

She has recently completed a major study of early Anglo-Saxon burials, which has significantly changed our view of how Christianity was established in England. Her previous research has transformed our understanding of how farming arrived in Britain. (Gathering Time: dating the early Neolithic Enclosures of Southern Britain and Ireland with Alasdair Whittle and Frances Healy was voted book of the year, British Archaeological Awards 2012).

She is currently working on a major project funded by the European Research Council, The Times of Their Lives, which was awarded a Research Award of the Shanghai Archaeological Forum in 2015. Alex's publications can be obtained through her ResearchGate profile.

 

Peter Marshall

Scientific Dating Coordinator

Peter Marshall works in Historic England’s Research Department as part of the Scientific Dating Team, coordinating the programme of commissioned radiocarbon dating.  He has been involved in many iconic archaeological projects over the last twenty years providing precise chronologies to understand past human activities and how landscapes have changed.  His work on the chronology of Stonehenge won the 2013 Ben Cullen Award and he is presently part of the Times of Their Lives project. Details of Peter's publications can be found on his profile at at Scholar Google.

 

Shahina Farid

Scientific Dating Coordinator

Shahina Farid co-ordinates the commissioned dendrochronology programme in the Scientific Dating Team. She is relatively new to the team having joined in 2012 after a career as a contract archaeologist working for many of the commercial London based units as well as research projects abroad.

Over the two decades as Field Director and Project Coordinator at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey she has accumulated a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of archaeological excavation, recording and interpretation including a comprehensive overview of archaeological sciences, which she brings to the job. She is currently Honorary Secretary for the British Institute at Ankara.

 

Cathy Tyers

Dendrochronologist

Cathy is part of the Scientific Dating team and has been a dendrochronologist (tree-ring dating) since 1984. She oversees all dendrochronological work commissioned through Historic England either as part of projects funded through the Heritage Protection Programme or the Historic England Action Plan, as well as sites where Historic England is involved in statutory decisions or the provision of advice and support. Cathy provides advice to a wide range of external enquirers and is involved in the development of national standards. Her research interests include imported conifer timbers in post-medieval buildings, medieval farmhouses in the south-west, and past landscapes and woodland management. 

 

Alex Bayliss

Head of Scientific Dating
  • Address

    4th Floor, Cannon Bridge House,
    25 Dowgate Hill,
    London,
    EC4R 2YA

Pete Marshall

Scientific Dating Coordinator

Shahina Farid

Scientific Dating Coordinator
  • Address

    4th Floor, Cannon Bridge House,
    25 Dowgate Hill,
    London,
    EC4R 2YA

Cathy Tyers

Dendrochronologist
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