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Comparison of barley grain and birch charcoal C14 dates

"We argue that wood samples often give too-high ages and are not suited to date the settlement. Grain, on the other hand, is probably from the last harvest and, therefore, most suitable to give the true age of the human occupation.

"As pointed out by Ólafsson (1998), the wood collected by the first settlers in Iceland to build their fire had very likely been dead, possibly for more than a century. This makes “Settlement” wood unsuited for 14C dating as it can be much older than the archaeological context. Work in progress indicates that the supply of old firewood was gradually exhausted, thus reducing the age offset of charcoal samples from the following centuries."

Arny E Sveinbjörnsdóttir et al, 2004, "14C Dating of the Settlement of Iceland"
Radiocarbon, Vol 46, Nr 1, pp 392-3