8.4.3 Window Glass from the 1980-1 Excavation by Judith Stones

301 fragments of window glass were recovered from these excavations. This report covers the glass found on the 1980-1 excavations (and refers to fragments with a context prefaced with a J).

A number of fragments of window glass were recovered from in and around buildings thought to be part of the Carmelite friary. The fragments were recovered almost exclusively from the church, although fifteen pieces were excavated from layers associated with Structure 5a (JAB/JBA), some 25m S of the church. Two concentrations of glass fragments (layers J153/J157 and J316) may possibly have been found in the position where they fell when the windows were destroyed. But the remainder of the pieces associated with the church were scattered in soils which had been seriously disturbed by burials. It will be seen from the more detailed discussion below that from fabric and style the glass seems to fall into two dating periods – late 13th-14th century, and 16th century. The earlier group clearly can be associated with the main period of the friary's existence, while the latter must be the result of repairs carried out towards the end of the house's lifetime.

0007 0101
0110 0111
0007/0101/0110/0111 Decorated glass fragments

The window glass falls into 3 main types:

  1. Originally a clear, colourless glass, although it is now decayed to a black, opaque laminating material. Most of this glass is undecorated, but the group includes ten pieces showing traces of reddish-brown paint [Photo 0007] [Photo 0101] [Photo 0110] [Photo 0111]. The decoration includes stiff-leaf and fruiting-leaf foliage, and one piece is cross-hatched. These motifs would seem to fit into a late 13th-14th century context. Although few of the designs can be closely paralleled elsewhere, a general comparison can be made with glass of that date in Lincoln Cathedral (Read et al. 1960, 64, 119)
  2. There are two possible fragments of coloured glass. One small piece is flashed ruby (red) [Photo 0034], that is colourless glass with a thin layer of ruby on one side. Another fragment is aquamarine and is severely laminated, but is probably also window glass, and would fit, along with the ruby piece, into the same late 13th-14th century context as the painted pieces.
  3. 0034
    0034 Ruby coloured glass
  4. The third group comprises glass fragments larger, more substantial and less corroded than the other pieces, in a pale green colour. These are probably 16th century in date. A group of these pieces was found in association with a number of lead cames, the channelled strips which held the glass in place in the window.

The overall impression given by this window glass is that of an assemblage left over by deliberate destruction of windows, presumably at or after the Reformation. Clearly nothing like whole windows are represented, and we have the pieces which fell when the glazing was removed, mainly for the sake of the lead cames, although the glass itself may perhaps have been taken away to be used as cullet. The fact that only three lead cames, and those twisted, were found, would tend to support the theory that here, as at so many other ecclesiastical sites, the major portion of the lead was removed for melting down and re-use.


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