Forest Exploitation and Wood Supply: A Dendroarchaeological Approach between the Massif Central and the Southern Alps since the Middle Ages

Numerous dendroarchaeological studies have been carried out in buildings in the south-eastern quarter of France, which has enabled us to lay the foundations for a first regional restitution of forest stands in the medieval and modern periods, based on the species, diameters, ages and growth rhythms of the trees used by humans. The 2369 pieces of dated softwood timber are mainly larch and fir from the Massif Central and the Alps mountains. Larch seems to have been used mostly locally in the Alps, whereas fir was certainly exported from the two regions to the lowland towns. Very little felling has been identified in the historically troubled 13th–14th century. For the moment we have not identified any fir trees used before the 15th century in the Alps, whereas they are present in the Massif Central from the 12th century. Growth of fir timbers show little variation over time while larch timbers present an increase in growth between those felled until the 12th century and those felled from the 15th century onwards. Finally, since firs from the Massif Central show a higher age trend than those from the Alps, this can serve as a model for identifying the source forests of the timber used in the Rhône valley.


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