WOODCHAR – 2500 years of woodland history in NW Europe studied through the analysis of archaeological remains of charcoal kilns.

Start - End 
2024 - 2028 (ongoing)
Department of Archaeology
Research Focus 



Before the large scale use of fossil coal, charcoal was the most important fuel for many (proto)industrial activities, and I particular for the production of iron. Charcoal was produced in kilns that were situated in former woodlands. In many areas in NW-Europe, there are numerous archaeological remains of these charcoal kilns, dating from the iron age till the post medieval period, preserved in the soil. These are an important but little used source of information on past woodland distribution and composition over the last c. 2500 years. The WOODCHAR project will study past woodland dynamics and composition based on both the spatial and chronological analysis of these charcoal kilns and on the taxonomic identification of charcoal preserved in these structures. In addition, the relation between these changes in the distribution and composition of woodlands and the evolution of settlement patterns and (pre)historic metal production will be studied.