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Drill for dendrochronology sampling and growth ring counting The growth rings of a tree at Bristol Zoo , England. Each ring represents one year; the outside rings, near the bark, are the youngest. Dendrochronology (from δένδρον , dendron , "tree limb"; χρόνος , khronos , "time"; and -λογία , -logia ) or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings , also known as growth rings . Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year.