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The Glass Vessels of Anglo-Saxon England c. AD 650-1100 (Paperback)

P&S History > Medieval World > Viking & Early Medieval Europe > Viking & Early Medieval Archaeology

Imprint: Oxbow Books
Pages: 192
Illustrations: b/w and colour
ISBN: 9781789253726
Published: 15th November 2019
Casemate UK Academic


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This volume combines a comprehensive exploration of all vessel glass from middle and late Anglo-Saxon England and a review of the early glass with detailed interpretation of its meaning and place in Anglo-Saxon society. Analysis of a comprehensive dataset of all known Anglo-Saxon vessel glass of middle Anglo-Saxon date as a group has enabled the first quantification of form, colour, and decoration, and provided the structure for a new typological, chronological and geographical framework. The quantification and comparison of the vessel glass fragments and their attributes, and the mapping of the national distribution of these characteristics (forms, colours and decoration types), both represent significant developments and create rich opportunities for the future. The geographical scope is dictated by the glass fragments, which are from settlements located along the coast from Northumbria to Kent and along the south coast to Southampton. Seven case studies of intra-site glass distribution reveal that the anticipated pattern of peripheral disposal alongside dining waste is widespread, although exceptions exist at the monastic sites at Lyminge, Kent, and Jarrow, Tyne and Wear. Overall, the research themes addressed are the glass corpus and its typology; glass vessels in Anglo-Saxon society; and glass vessels as an economic indicator of trade and exchange. Analysis reveals new understandings of both the glass itself and the role of glass vessels in the social and economic mechanisms of early medieval England.


There is currently no comprehensive work examining early medieval vessel glass, particularly the post sixth-century fragmentary material from settlements, and my monograph will fill that gap. The space is particularly noticeable when considering books on archaeological glass from England: the early medieval period is the only one with no reference volume; no recent, through and accessible source of information. The British Museum published a monograph entitled ‘Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Glass in the British Museum’ in 2008, but as the title suggests it is a catalogue at heart, and of a collection of fifth and sixth century grave goods in a single museum. Chronologically, a volume on the subject would fill the space between various books on Roman glass from Britain and ‘Medieval glass vessels found in England c. AD 1200-1500’ by Rachel Tyson. This book on early medieval vessel glass and the contexts from which it came will also make a significant contribution to early medieval settlement studies and the archaeology of trade in this period: both are growth areas of scholarship and interest and vessel glass provides a new tool to address key debates in the field.

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