The Composition and Production of Anglo-Saxon Glass

The Composition and Production of Anglo-Saxon Glass

By Ian C. Freestone, Michael J. Hughes and Colleen P. Stapleton

Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Glass in the British Museum, edited by Sonja Marzinzik (British Museum Research Publication, 2008)

Introduction: The chemical composition of Anglo-Saxon glass has been the subject of a number of published studies over the past three decades. However, there has been limited success in relating glass composition to broader aspects of the processes of production and distribution. Ironically, one reason for this may result from the focus upon glass from Britain and, until recently, the dearth of analyses of early medieval glass from other regions. Without a more general context of glass technology and production in Late Antiquity and the early medieval period, an understanding of the specific conditions in a peripheral area such as Britain has inevitably been difficult to attain.

For this reason we have conducted, in parallel to our study of Anglo-Saxon glass, an investigation of the major glassproducing industries of the eastern Mediterranean, which began under the auspices of the British Museum’s Glass After Rome project, sponsored by the Renaissance Trus. Furthermore, the corpus of early medieval glass analyses from elsewhere in Europe has significantly expanded in recent years, and allows more detailed intercomparisons to be made. Comparison of Anglo-Saxon glass with glass from these areas allows a model for glass production in early medieval Europe to be developed.

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