The Group's conferences are where members meet to study buildings and discuss their findings. Conferences are normally open to members only, although guests may be accepted if space is available - please see the Membership page for details of how to join the group.
Lists of past VAG conferences can be found on the Previous Conferences page.
The winter conference takes a theme of current interest and explores it in depth through papers given by experts in the field. Bursaries are normally available for students or early career professionals to enable their attendance at the conference. Conference enquiries: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday 6 to Sunday 7 January 2024 - New Developments in Dendrochronology and its impact on the study of Vernacular Architecture
The next winter conference will be held at College Court, University of Leicester. There have been significant developments in dendrochronological dating over the past 10 years and much of this has had important implications for vernacular building research. New complementary techniques have opened up opportunities to date other wood types and timbers derived from short-lived trees and increased the number of buildings that can be accurately dated. This has allowed dendrochronology to contribute to vernacular building studies in a wider number of areas, moving beyond the dating of individual buildings to contribute to studies of settlements and regions and contribute to other debates. The conference will cover three main areas; new techniques, dating of other timber types, including imported timbers, and the contribution of dendrochronology to wider debates in vernacular building studies. The outline programme is given below.
- Saturday 6 January
- Nat Alcock (Independent researcher) - The Tree-ring Database: 1978-2023: 4,000 dates and counting
- Cathy Tyers (Dendrchronologist, Historic England) - Scientific Dating and vernacular architecture
- Robert Howard (Nottingham Tree Ring Dating Laboratory) - Case study: Calverley Old Hall
- Neil Loader (Prifysgol Abertawe/Swansea University) - An introduction to stable isotope dendrochronology
- Dan Miles (Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory) - Stable isotope dendrochronology. Application to vernacular buildings
- Alex Bayliss (Head of Scientific Dating, Historic England) - Using radiocarbon dating to understand historic buildings
- Danny McCarroll (Prifysgol Abertawe/Swansea University) - Welsh Houses and the climate of the past
- Sunday 7 January
- Ann Crone (AOC Archaeology Group) and Coralie Mills (Dendrochronicle) - Home and away; the dendrochronology of pine in Scottish buildings
- Rob Wilson (School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of St. Andrews) - Blue Intensity and historical dating: Not just for conifers!
- Dr Martin Bridge (Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory) - Elm and dating prospects with additional analysis methods
- Steven J Allen (Conservation Dept, York Archaeology) - Dates and the details: Constructing Anglo-Scandinavian Buildings in York
- Duncan James (Insight Heritage) - Pembridge village, Herefordshire in the light of dendro
- Stephen Price (Independent researcher) - The impact of dendro on understanding urban development in the Worcestershire towns of Droitwich and Bewdley
- Ann Crone (AOC Archaeology Group) - American oak imports to Britain and Ireland in the 18th and early 19th centuries; the dendrochronological evidence
- Vincent Debonne (researcher, built heritage, Flanders Heritage Agency, Belgium) - Towards tree-ring based chronologies of historical building materials and techniques. The example of Bruges (Belgium)
- Chris Dyer (University of Leicester) - The importance of tree ring dates in changing our understanding of the past
Full booking details are being circulated to members during week beginning 13 November 2023, and are also available in the Members' Area. Booking closes on 15 December 2023.
We are offering two bursaries to assist registered full or part-time students, recent graduates or professionals in the early years of their career to attend the conference; for more information please see the bursary details. The closing date for bursary applications is 8 December 2023.
In the spring members and guests meet in a different part of the country each year to visit a selection of buildings in the local vernacular tradition. Local experts are on hand to explain the background and more experienced members help others to interpret them. In the evenings, lectures and discussions allow the day's findings to be explored further. Bursaries are usually offered each year to enable a registered student or a professional in the early years of his or her career to attend the spring conference. Conference enquiries: please email email@example.com.
Tuesday 11 to Saturday 15 June 2024 - in Ulster
We are pleased to announce our next Spring Conference will be held in Northern Ireland in 2024. There are plans to visit the Ulster Folk Museum, rural farmsteads in County Down and a selection of urban buildings, subject to availability and the discretion of the planning committee. Booking information will be circulated to members via email in early 2024, and will also appear in the winter 2024 newsletter.
The Vernacular Architecture Group offered a short weekend conference in September 2023 aimed at those who are new to looking at vernacular buildings and/or would like the opportunity to learn more. The format was based on visits to buildings rather than papers. There was an emphasis on introducing people to examining buildings, covering basic vocabulary, some of the typical forms of vernacular buildings and how we go about investigating them. The conference focused on buildings in Ashwell, a small village in Hertfordshire full of fascinating buildings, visited as part of the VAG Spring Conference in 2017. We hope to offer further training conferences in future years. Conference enquiries: please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2021, we have held an online members' meeting annually in October. This takes the format of 10-20 minute papers being given over Zoom, on any topic related to vernacular buildings of members' choosing, perhaps highlighting a specific building, raising a problem or question, or exploring a theme.
Other Conferences and Visits
Other VAG visits include trips to Maine in France in 2016, Denmark in 2014, Norway in 2011 and North America in 2004.