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Making a Medieval Stained Glass Window

An archaeometric study of technology and production

Laura W Adlington
Publication Year:
260 pages
Sub-series name:
UCL Institute of Archaeology PhD Series, 6
BAR number:


Medieval stained glass windows are relatively untapped sources of information about medieval technology and production, because their architectural context usually prohibits sampling for chemical analysis. This volume presents a comprehensive study of York Minster’s Great East Window (1405-1408), investigating glass-making technology and provenance, and glass-painting craft organisation. Chemical analysis relies upon established methods of elemental and isotope-ratio analysis, and development of an in-situ technique, handheld/portable x-ray fluorescence (pXRF). This volume also brings together historical documentation, art historical information, and meta-analysis of legacy data. Concepts borrowed from archaeological and pedagogical studies, including chaîne opèratoire, technological choice, apprenticeship and batch theory, and production models from the automobile industry, provide a new lens through which to interpret the data. Findings regard long-term relationships between York Minster and glass suppliers, the level of sophistication exhibited by medieval glass-makers, and detailed insights into the window workshop, including identification of work by different craftsmen.

After earning her UCL-funded PhD in archaeological materials science (2019), Laura Adlington joined the ERC-funded project, GlassRoutes, as a postdoctoral researcher at IRAMAT-CEB, CNRS (Orléans). She is currently based outside Philadelphia working at Strainoptics in the non-destructive measurement of stress in glass and plastics, and continues research on heritage materials.

The book makes important contributions both to the methodology of glass analysis and to the understanding of the production of medieval stained glass in Britain. This study represents the first application of the batch concept to medieval stained glass and so is particularly original.’ Professor Ruth Whitehouse, UCL Institute of Archaeology

‘This is an exemplary case study in how to address big questions about social organisation through highly focussed interdisciplinary research. It represents a model of how to blend hard science with social science.’ Professor Andrew Reynolds, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Introduction (B671_Adlington_9781407358505_-_Introduction.pdf, 2,710 Kb) [Download]

Table of Contents (B671_Adlington_9781407358505_-_TOC.pdf, 262 Kb) [Download]