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Bricks, mortar and magnetism

Medieval French castle, churches yield new data about field changes

TORONTO — New analyses of bricks and mortar from French buildings constructed during the 9th and 10th centuries are providing information about Earth’s magnetic field at the time, Annick Chauvin, a geophysicist at the University of Rennes 1 in France, and her colleagues reported May 25 at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The researchers analyzed samples of materials used in the construction of a medieval castle and several churches in west-central France to better determine when they were built. Ages for the structures were obtained by carbon-dating bits of charcoal included in the mortar used to hold bricks together. 

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