This paper is concerned with dendroclimatic research aimed at representing the history of very large-scale temperature changes. It describes recent analyses of the data from a widespread network of tree-ring chronologies, made up of ring width and densitometric measurement data spanning three to six centuries. The network was built over many years from trees selected to maximise their sensitivity to changing temperature. This strategy was adopted so that temperature reconstructions might be achieved at both regional and very large spatial scales. The focus here is on the use of one growth parameter: maximum latewood density (MXD). The detailed nature of the temperature sensitivity of MXD across the whole network has been explored and the dominant common influence of mean April-September temperature on MXD variability is demonstrated. Different approaches to reconstructing past temperature for this season include the production of detailed year-by-year gridded maps and wider regional integrations in the form of subcontinental and quasi-hemispheric-scale histories of temperature variability spanning some six centuries. These 'hemispheric' summer series can be compared with other reconstructions of temperature changes for the Northern Hemisphere over the last millennium. The tree-ring-based temperature reconstructions show the clear cooling effect of large explosive volcanic eruptions. They also exhibit greater century-timescale variability than is apparent in the other hemispheric series and suggest that the late 15th and the 16th centuries were cooler than indicated by some other data. However, in many tree-ring chronologies, we do not observe the expected rate of ring density increases that would be compatible with observed late 20th century warming. This changing climate sensitivity may be the result of other environmental factors that have, since the 1950s, increasingly acted to reduce tree-ring density below the level expected on the basis of summer temperature changes. This prevents us from claiming unprecedented hemispheric warming during recent decades on the basis of these tree-ring density data alone. Here we show very preliminary results of an investigation of the links between recent changes in MXD and ozone (the latter assumed to be associated with the incidence of UV radiation at the ground).