By: Sharol Yeatman, Historic St. Mary’s City

Tree-Ring Dating and Historic Structures: A Look at the Science of Dendrochronology

On November 21 at 7 p.m. in the Visitor Center Auditorium of Historic St. Mary’s City, dendrochronologist Michael Worthington will give a free, public lecture titled “Tree Ring Dating and Historic Structures: A Look at the Science of Dendrochronology.”

The science of dendrochronology or tree-ring dating has long been used to provide insight into many of America’s most famous buildings, from George Washington’s Mount Vernon to James Madison’s Montpelier, the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and much of the town of Colonial Williamsburg.

But did you know that pioneering work on its development was done right here in St. Mary’s City? Join dendrochronologist Michael Worthington on an exploration of this fascinating but little-known science and the ways that it has changed our understanding of historic structures. He will discuss how dendrochronology works, how it has been applied in England and America, and the ways that it has shed light on the architectural development of Maryland and beyond.

The evening lecture will be held inside the Visitor Center Auditorium, 18751 Hogaboom Lane, St. Mary’s City, MD 20686. This lecture will be free and open to the public.

Historic St.Mary’s City is a museum of living history and archaeology on the site of Maryland’s first capital in beautiful, tidewater Southern Maryland. For more information about the museum, contact the Visitor Center at 240-895-4990, 800-SMC-1634,Info@DigsHistory.org,or visit our website atHSMCdigsHistory.org.

About Michael Worthington:

Michael Worthington is a dendrochronologist with wide-ranging experience working on both sides of the Atlantic. Among the many buildings he has dated are the Josiah Henson Site (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and Doughoregan Manor in Maryland; Decatur House in Washington DC; Mount Vernon and many of the buildings in Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia; Drayton Hall in South Carolina; the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams and the Fairbanks House (the oldest surviving timber frame house in North America) in Massachusetts; the Officers’ Club at the Presidio in San Francisco, California; and Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey, and the Tower of London in England.

He also enjoys working on smaller vernacular buildings and has been commissioned by numerous homeowners in the US and Europe to date their houses privately. He has extensive media experience and has appeared on the PBS television series “History Detectives” and “Time Team America.”

Michael began his career in buildings as an industrial archaeologist at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire, England.

He spent seven years as the excavation supervisor for the British television series “Time Team.” After deciding to specialize in dendrochronology, he received his academic training through a grant from English Heritage at the University of Oxford. At Oxford, he was a member of staff at the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art and an assistant tutor on the master’s degree course in Archaeological Science.

Upon moving full-time to the United States in 2010, Michael opened the Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory. He currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...