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Bēhance

Painted Window Glass (Priory Avenue, Taunton, Somerset)

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  • Painted Window Glass
    Priory Avenue, Taunton Somerset
  • Context One Archaeological Services (www.contextone.co.uk) undertook an excavation in advance of the construction of a new housing development in 2005.  The excavation located the western end of the Church at the Augustinian Priory of St Peter and St Paul.  Although the environs had been retained in local memory, the exact location of the church had been lost since it's destruction.
  • Excavation of the cloister floor adjoining the north wall of the church revealed the fragmented remains of a hand-painted window. All the fragments were recovered and it is estimated that there are between 25-30,000 pieces. Most of the shards are very small although a number are large enough to identify a pattern. Hand-held and microscopic examination of various fragments showed the glass to be almost completely de-vitrified (reverting to its former crystalline constituents); because of this, the glass is virtually opaque. However, the larger pieces still show an identifiable pattern and comprises of two elements: a miniature "grid" overpainted with a geometric grisaille design. Stylistically, the window is probably 13th century in date and is similar to a surviving window in Salisbury Cathedral.

  • The shards were found in association with musket balls, and the layer within which they were found was sealed by demolition debris.  The implication was that the windows were 'shot out' in the iconoclastic fury that followed the disoloution of the Priory in 1539.

    Each piece of glass whilst being drawn had to remain in water to prevent any further de-vitrification.  They were all drawn at 1:1 scale for reproduction at 1:2.