, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 55-63

First online:

Combined dating methods applied to building archaeology: The contribution of thermoluminescence to the case of the bell tower of St Martin’s church, Angers (France)

  • S. BlainAffiliated withIRAMAT-CRP2A — UMR 5060, CNRS, Université de Bordeaux Email author 
  • , P. GuibertAffiliated withIRAMAT-CRP2A — UMR 5060, CNRS, Université de Bordeaux
  • , D. PrigentAffiliated withService archéologique départemental de Maine-et-Loire
  • , P. LanosAffiliated withIRAMAT-CRP2A, Géoscience-Rennes-Université de Rennes
  • , C. OberlinAffiliated withCentre de datation par le RadioCarbone, Université de Lyon
  • , C. SapinAffiliated withLaboratoire Artehis — UMR 5594, CNRS, Université de Bourgogne
  • , A. BouvierAffiliated withIRAMAT-CRP2A — UMR 5060, CNRS, Université de Bordeaux
  • , P. DufresneAffiliated withIRAMAT-CRP2A, Géoscience-Rennes-Université de Rennes

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St Martin’s church, Angers, is emblematic of the problems raised in pre-12th century history of architecture.

In view of the importance of this building, it was necessary to attempt to define its dating and this study particularly focuses on its bell-tower. In addition to the conclusion resulting from the interpretation of written sources and typological criteria positioning the construction of the site at the beginning of the 11th century, not only a significant number of 14C dates were carried out on charcoals from the masonry structures, but also independent dating by archaeomagnetism and thermoluminescence were performed on bricks from the bell-tower. The whole results from these three different methods agree and indicate the lower level of the bell-tower was likely built in the 9th century, disputing evidence to the theory of construction in the 11th century of the church.

Presented here are the detailed results obtained from the thermoluminescence (TL) dating analysis.


church medieval building archaeology dating radiocarbon archaeomagnetism luminescence