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Proceedings Paper

Cross-craft interactions between metal and glass working: slag additions to early Anglo-Saxon red glass
Author(s): James R. N. Peake; Ian C. Freestone
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Paper Abstract

Opaque red glass has been extensively studied over the years, but its compositional complexity and variability means that the way in which it was manufactured is still not fully understood. Previous studies have suggested the use of metallurgical by-products in its manufacture, but until now the evidence has been limited. SEM-EDS analysis of glass beads from the early Anglo-Saxon cemetery complex at Eriswell, southeast England, has provided further insights into the production and technology of opaque red glass, which could only have been possible through invasive sampling. The matrix of the red glasses contains angular particles of slag, the main phases of which typically correspond to either fayalite (Fe2SiO4) or kirschsteinite (CaFeSiO4), orthosilicate (olivine-type) minerals characteristic of some copper- and iron-smelting slags. This material appears to have been added in part as a reducing agent, to promote the precipitation of sub-micrometer particles of the colorant phase, copper metal. Its use represents a sophisticated, if empirical, understanding of materials and can only have resulted through deliberate experimentation with metallurgical by-products by early glass workers. Slag also seems to have been added as a source of iron to colour ‘black’ glass. The compositions of the opaque red glasses appear to be strongly paralleled by Merovingian beads from northern Europe and Anglo-Saxon beads from elsewhere in England, suggesting that this technology is likely to have been quite widespread.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 November 2012
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 8422, Integrated Approaches to the Study of Historical Glass, 842204 (7 November 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.973765
Show Author Affiliations
James R. N. Peake, Cardiff Univ. (United Kingdom)
Ian C. Freestone, Univ. College London (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8422:
Integrated Approaches to the Study of Historical Glass
Hugo Thienpont; Wendy Meulebroeck; Karin Nys; Dirk Vanclooster, Editor(s)

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