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Forthcoming Lecture by Professor Ian Freestone: ‘Yesterday’s Progress, Today’s Problem: Medieval Stained Glass and its Deterioration’

On 7 May 2015, Ian Freestone, Professor of Archaeological Materials and Technology at UCL, will present a lecture entitled ‘Yesterday’s Progress, Today’s Problem: Medieval Stained Glass and its Deterioration’ for UCL’s Institute for Sustainable Heritage. The lecture will take place at G01, Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0NN, 6–8pm.

Fig. 1. ‘Yesterday’s Progress, Today’s Problem: Medieval Stained Glass and its Deterioration’

Fig. 1. ‘Yesterday’s Progress, Today’s Problem: Medieval Stained Glass and its Deterioration’

While a Roman window pane from an archaeological excavation may appear almost pristine, medieval glass that is a thousand years younger may be entirely deteriorated, transformed to opaque flakes. This poor durability is particularly apparent in standing buildings with stained glass. Churches and cathedrals are obliged to undertake major campaigns to conserve their fragile inheritance in stained glass, which constitutes a major source of medieval imagery.

Professor Freestone’s talk will explore the extensive research that is being conducted into the materials science of medieval stained glass, to determine its origins, its composition, and its vulnerability to decay. This research is yielding new insights into glazing practices, the sources of raw materials, the technologies of glass production, and the practices of the glass-makers that have caused the glass to be vulnerable to decay. It is clear that as the glass-makers strove to balance the demand for more glass in a wider range of colours against the cost and availability of raw materials, they made decisions of short-term benefit which have proved to be problematic in the longer term.

Ian Freestone studied geology and was awarded a PhD in earth sciences from the University of Leeds. He joined the Research Laboratories of the British Museum in 1979, where he investigated artefacts and materials from a wide range of times, places and cultures, specializing in ceramics and glass. He became Deputy Keeper of Conservation and Science at the museum, then moved to Cardiff University in 2004, as a professorial fellow. Following a stint as Head of Archaeology at Cardiff, he returned to London to join UCL in 2011. Ian’s interests lie in the science of early materials – their production, use and behaviour, and how they can inform us about the people of the past. He is a recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Pomerance Medal for Scientific Contributions to Archaeology and was a member of the Geography, Environmental Science and Archaeology sub-panel for the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which evaluated British academic research over the previous six years. A previous Vice-President of the Association Internationale pour l’Histoire du Verre, he has a special interest in high-temperature materials, which links his current research into glass with his early work on volcanic rocks.

For information and to register to attend, please visit the website.