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European chronologies derived from wooden structures initially found it difficult to bridge the gap in the 14th century when there was a building hiatus, which coincided with the Black Death, Given a sample of wood, the variation of the tree-ring growths provides not only a match by year, it can also match location because the climate across a continent is not consistent.

This makes it possible to determine the source of ships as well as smaller artifacts made from wood but which were transported long distances, such as panels for paintings and ship timbers.

A new layer of wood is added in each growing season, thickening the stem, existing branches and roots, to form a growth ring.

Growth rings, also referred to as tree rings or annual rings, can be seen in a horizontal cross section cut through the trunk of a tree.

The inner portion of a growth ring is formed early in the growing season, when growth is comparatively rapid (hence the wood is less dense) and is known as "early wood" (or "spring wood", or "late-spring wood" Many trees in temperate zones make one growth ring each year, with the newest adjacent to the bark.