Article (Scientific journals)
Wood Used in Brussels’ Old Buildings: Origin, Characterisation, and Use (12th–19th Centuries)
Charruadas, Paulo; Crémer, Sarah; Hoffsummer, Patrick et al.
2022In International Journal of Wood Culture, 3
Peer reviewed


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Keywords :
archéologie; charpentes; essences de bois; dendrochronologie; exploitation forestière; menuiserie
Abstract :
[en] Since 1990 archaeologists, historians and dendrochronologists have worked on 128 sites in the Brussels-Capital Region. In addition to producing a typo-chronological inventory of wooden roof structures (12th–19th centuries), the studies have now extended to fin-ishings and floor coverings, with an increasing focus being placed on the types of wood used. Although oak was the predominant material, especially before the 17th century, the resources used in Brussels and the surrounding villages were local. They came from three wooded areas, cleared or degraded to varying degrees: the Sonian Forest, state-owned forests, and hedgerows. Oak grows rapidly, with wide rings which make dendrochronological dating difficult, although this can be overcome by utilising more comparative data, employing carbon-14 dating, or knowing the historical context. The use of green wood has been confirmed, with unusual felling periods spread over two years. The sinuous profile of the fast-growing oaks was used to cut the knee braces in roofs over knee walls and porticoed wooden structures of monuments, urban housing, and vernacular architecture. Mediocre oak, or even wood from fruit trees, elm, or ash, was used for this kind of architecture. Moreover, from the 17th century onward, spe-cies other than oak began to appear in the roof frames of all buildings, especially after the centre of Brussels was bombarded in 1695. The typology of the reconstructed roof frames is the same as that prior to 1695, but a wider variety of woods were used to meet the high demand at the time of reconstruction. This diversity of species is more evi-dent among floorboards, with poplar, elm, Scots pine, fir, and spruce being used. This may have been due to technical reasons, but, in the local context, it would also have been a question of using the precious oak of the Sonian Forest frugally.
Disciplines :
Author, co-author :
Charruadas, Paulo
Crémer, Sarah
Hoffsummer, Patrick ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des sciences historiques
Modrie, Sylvianne
Sosnowska, Philippe ;  Université de Liège - ULiège > Unités de recherche interfacultaires > Art, Archéologie et Patrimoine (AAP)
Weitz, Armelle
Language :
Title :
Wood Used in Brussels’ Old Buildings: Origin, Characterisation, and Use (12th–19th Centuries)
Publication date :
Journal title :
International Journal of Wood Culture
Publisher :
Special issue title :
Volume :
Peer reviewed :
Peer reviewed
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since 29 November 2022


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