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Prof (Emeritus) Mike Baillie

<p>Professor Mike Baillie</p>

Professor Mike Baillie



Emeritus Professor of Palaeoecology



Archaeology and Palaeoecology
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (GAP)
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast, BT7 1NN
Northern Ireland, UK


+44 (0)28 90 973977

Current Research: Environmental change

My original degree was in Physics before moving to Palaeoecology where I completed a doctorate entitled “A dendrochronological study in Ireland with reference to the dating of medieval and post-medieval timbers”. I was one of the team (with Jon Pilcher, Jennifer Hillam, David Brown and Gordon Pearson) responsible for the construction of Ireland’s long oak dendrochronology and the calibration of the radiocarbon timescale.

My interest in high resolution chronology prompted an interest in catastrophic environmental events that showed up in tree-ring chronologies. I was one of the first to recognise the existence of global environmental downturns as shown by synchronous growth reductions in tree-ring chronologies around the world (Baillie 1994). As a result of these observations I have spent many years attempting to reconstruct the effects of volcanic eruptions and extraterrestrial impacts. I am recognised internationally as an expert in tree-ring studies and chronology and was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 1990 and the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2006.


  • Dendrochronology
  • High resolution chronology in recent millennia Abrupt environmental downturns in recent millennia
  • Environmental effects of explosive volcanism
  • Frequency and environmental effects of extraterrestrial impacts in recent millennia
  • Mythology as a source of information on extreme events
  • Linking tree-ring and ice-core chronologies


Selected publications: Books

Baillie, M.G.L. 1982 Tree-Ring Dating and Archaeology. Croom-Helm, London
Baillie, M.G.L. 1995 A Slice through Time: dendrochronology and precision dating. Routledge, London.
Baillie, M.G.L. 1999 Exodus to Arthur: catastrophic encounters with comets. Batsford, London
McCafferty, P. and Baillie, M.G.L. 2005 The Celtic Gods: comets in Irish mythology. Tempus, London
Baillie, M.G.L. 2006 New Light on the Black Death: the cosmic connection. Tempus, London

Selected publications: Dendrochronology

Pilcher, J.R., Baillie, M.G.L., Brown, D.M., MacSweeney, P.B. and McLawrence, A. 1995, Dendrochronology of Sub-Fossil Pine in the North of Ireland, Journal of Ecology 83, 665–71
Bayliss, A; Groves, C; McCormac, G; Baillie, M; Brown, D. and Brennand, M. 1999 Precise dating of the Norfolk Timber Circle, Nature, 402, 479
Briffa, K.R., Jones, P.D., Vogel, R.B., Schweingruber, F.H., Baillie, M.G.L., Shiyatov, S.G. and Vaganov, E.A., 1999 European tree rings and climate in the 16th century. Climatic Change 43, 151-168

Selected publications: Extraterrestrial related

Baillie, M.G.L. 2006 Tree-Rings Indicate Global Environmental Downturns that could have been Caused by Comet Debris. In Bobrowsky, P. and Rickman, H. (Ed.). Comet/Asteroid Impacts and Human Society: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York. 105-122

Baillie, M.G.L. 2007 The case for significant numbers of extraterrestrial impacts through the late Holocene. Journal of Quaternary Science 22(2) 101-109

Selected publications: Radiocarbon

McCormac, F.G., Baillie, M.G.L., Pilcher and Kalin, R.M. 1995 Location-Dependent Differences in the 14-C Content of Wood. Radiocarbon 37, 2, 395-407
Hogg, A.G., McCormac, F.G., Higham, T.F.G., Reimer, P.G., Baillie, M.G.L. and Palmer, J.G. 2002 High-precision 14C measurements of contemporaneous tree-ring dated wood from the British isles and New Zealand. Radiocarbon, 44, 3, 633-640

Selected publications: Volcanism

Baillie, M.G.L. 2003 Dendrochronology and Volcanoes. Geoscientist 13, 3, 4-10

Selected publications: Environmental

Baillie, M.G.L. 2001 The AD 540 Event, Current Archaeology 15 (6) No. 174, 266-269
Baillie, M.G.L. and Brown, D.M. 2003 Dendrochronology and the reconstruction of fine resolution environmental change in the Holocene. In Mackay, A. et al. (Ed) Global Change in the Holocene. Arnold, London, 75-91
Plunkett, G.M., Whitehouse, N.J., Hall, V.A., Brown, D.M. and Baillie, M.G.L. 2004 A precisely dated lake level rise marked by diatomite formation in north-eastern Ireland. Journal of Quaternary Science, 19, 1, 3-7
Turney, C., Baillie, M.G.L., Clemens, S., Brown, D., Palmer, J., Pilcher, J.R., Reimer, P. and Leuschner, H.H. 2005 Testing solar forcing of pervasive Holocene cycles. Journal of Quaternary Science. 20(6) 511-518


Mallory, J.P., Brown, D.M. and Baillie, M.G.L. 1999 Dating Navan Fort, Antiquity, 73, 427-431
Baillie, M.G.L. 2002 Future of Dendrochronology with Respect to Archaeology. Dendrochronologia 20 (1), 67-83
Baillie, M.G.L. and Brown, D.M. 2002 Oak dendrochronology: some recent archaeological developments from an Irish perspective. Antiquity 76, 497-505
Baillie, M.G.L. 2004 An environmental context for the Dover Boat. In Clark, P. (Ed) The Dover Bronze Age Boat in Context: Society and water transport in prehistoric Europe. Oxbow Books, Oxford. 106-110

Selected publications: ice-core related

Zielinski, G.A., Germani, M.S., Larsen, G., Baillie, M.G.L., Whitlow, S., Twickler, M.S. and Taylor, K. 1995 Evidence of the Eldgjá (Iceland) eruption in the GISP2 Greenland ice core: relationship to eruption processes and climatic conditions in the tenth century. The Holocene 5, 2, 129-140.
Baillie, M.G.L. 1996. Extreme environmental events and the linking of the tree-ring and ice-core records. In J.S. Dean, D.M. Meko and T.W. Swetnam, eds., Tree Rings, Environment and Humanity: Proceedings of the International Conference, Tucson, Arizona, 17-21 May 1994. Tucson, Radiocarbon: 703-711.
Baillie, M.G.L. 2008 Proposed re-dating of the European ice core chronology by seven years prior to the 7th century AD. Geophysical Research Letters. 35, L15813, doi:10.1029/2008GL034755