C-14 chronology of the oldest Scandinavian church in use. An AMS/PIXE study of lime lump carbonate in the mortar

Alf Lindroos, Heikki Ranta, Jan Heinemeier, Jan-Olof Lill

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    Mortar dating was applied to newly revealed, original mortar in the church of Dalby in Scania, southern Sweden which is considered to be the oldest still standing church in Scandinavia. Small white lime lumps were sampled by chipping from the supporting pillars in the interior of the church. Special emphasis was in sampling lime lumps because the church is situated in the Scania limestone area and aggregate limestone contamination was anticipated in the bulk mortars. Earlier studies have, however, shown that lime lumps do not contain aggregate material but only possible limestone rests from incomplete calcination. The sampled material was prepared for radiocarbon AMS dating. The carbonate in the lime lumps was hydrolyzed according to the sequential leaching technique developed for the Arhus C-14 laboratory in Denmark. Prior to the hydrolysis the lime lumps were examined for dead-carbon contamination using a stereo microscope and cathodoluminescence. The lime lumps displayed heterogeneous carbonate luminescence. This is, however, common and it was not considered a problem because carbonate growth in changing pH/Eh conditions often leads to changing luminescence colors. Two lumps had little dead carbon contamination and an early second millennium C-14 signature. One lump, however, seemed to be heavily contaminated with dead carbon. Since the sample passed the microscopic screening, the leftovers of the lump was subjected to PIXE analysis and compared with the other two lumps. The well-defined, early 2nd millennium C-14 age of the lime lumps of this particular church is an important contribution to the discussion on stone church chronology in Scandinavia. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)220–224
    Number of pages5
    JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Cathodoluminescence
    • Dalby church
    • Lime lump dating

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