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Anglo-Saxon Window Glass Discovered at Glastonbury Abbey (Somerset)
New research led by the University of Reading has revealed that finds at Glastonbury Abbey provide the earliest archaeological evidence for glass-making in Britain.
Professor Roberta Gilchrist of the university’s archaeology department has re-examined the records of excavations that took place at Glastonbury in the 1950s and 1960s. Glass furnaces recorded in 1955–57 were previously thought to date from before the Norman Conquest, but radiocarbon dating has now revealed that they date to much earlier, roughly to the 680s, and are likely to be associated with a major rebuilding of the abbey undertaken by King Ine of Wessex. We have documentary records of glass-making at York and Wearmouth for the 670s, but Glastonbury provides the earliest and most substantial archaeological evidence for glass-making in Anglo-Saxon Britain.
The extensive remains of five furnaces have been identified, together with fragments of clay crucibles and glass for window glazing and drinking vessels, mainly of vivid blue-green colour. It is likely that specialist glassworkers came from what is now France to work at Glastonbury.
[...] An exhibition at Glastonburg Abbey Museum, ‘From Fire and Earth’, tells the story of the abbey’s pioneering role in medieval crafts and technology, and runs until 16 September 2012.