Early Medieval Glassmaking at Glastonbury and Barking Abbeys
March 25 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
ORDINARY MEETING OF FELLOWS LECTURE
OUT OF LONDON IN EXETER*
Early Medieval Glassmaking at Glastonbury and Barking Abbeys; craft working and the early church in the 7th to 8th centuries AD
Lecture by Dr Hugh Willmott FSA
Between 1955-7 excavations by Raleigh Radford at Glastonbury Abbey revealed the first extensive evidence for pre-Conquest glassmaking in England. Never comprehensively studied, a recent analysis has shown that the remains of five glass furnaces were encountered along with a small but significant assemblage of working waste. Long believed to belong to the tenth century, the glassmaking can now be dated to the 680s, deriving from the rebuilding of the abbey by King Ine, making it contemporaneous to the historically documented presence of glassmakers at Wearmouth and York at this time. This assemblage is now far from unique, a furnace and glassmaking debris of similar date have been excavated at Barking Abbey in Essex, and is currently undergoing study by the author, and these two sites can be compared with a number of smaller assemblages or occasional finds from other 7th– and early 8th-century ecclesiastical sites. Together these point to a clear connection between the reintroduction of the glass industry in England and the founding of new Christian communities. This paper will review the archaeological evidence for early glassmaking and discuss what it can tell us about the control of technology and the establishment of the early Church.
*We hold annual meetings in conjunction with our regional groups in Cardiff, Exeter and York. Due to COVID restrictions these meetings are being held online but were still organised with support from our regional convenors and committees.
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