Sinead Middleton – Glass Artefacts

By February 15, 2019 February 19th, 2019 Student Research

Institute of Technology Sligo: Archaeology Department – MSc (2015)


Sinead Middleton of the Institute of Technology Sligo carried out a study of medieval glass from a previous field-school, the Blackfriary, as part of her MSc thesis. She used X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) to undertake multi- and trace-elemental analysis of the glass. XRF and SEM are used as they facilitate highly accurate methods of obtaining elemental analysis and are non-destructive.

The study sought to identify major materials and trace substances used in producing the glass. Trace substances may include stray inclusions or substances added intentionally to affect properties; different additives to the glass can modify the physical properties of the material such as colour. Analysis will identify trace elements in the glass, and provide information on glass production and/or glass trade. In consultation with the National Museum of Ireland, and examining glass from recent archaeological excavations, Sinead furthered initial research carried out in Ireland on glass mainly from Iron Age contexts. The major aim of the project was to establish a database of results against which future samples can be compared.

Further reading:
Warner, R. and Meighan, I. G. 1994. Dating Irish glass beads by chemical analysis. In D. O’Corráin (ed) Irish Antiquity. Essays and Studies Presented to Professor M. J. O’Kelly. Four Courts Press: Dublin