A Closer Look At Medieval Stained Glass And Its Significance


Medieval stained glass is uniquely colored and painted glass from the medieval period in Europe from the 10th century to the 16th century. A lot of this period of stained glass was made up of picture representation of saints, biblical scenes and rich iconography. While the reason for this is not exactly clear, the emerging color technology for stained glass at the time was surely a factor for this style. One of the first examples of colored window glass dates from 800–820 from excavations at the Abbey of San Vicenzo in Volturno, Italy. The medieval period, rich in colored stained glass, soon followed–less than 200 years later. [3

The Colors of Medevil Stained Glass

So, exactly what type of color was used that was so hallmarked to this period and place in stained glass history? Quite a few actually. Most of them actually stemming from impurities in the silica used for making the stained glass panels–some intentional–some not.

Medieval Blue Soda Glass

One of the most brilliant colors in Medieval stained glass is the blue soda glass. The early medieval glass was soda-based. Although quickly replaced with Forest glass there has been blue soda stained glass found in UK excavations at Old Sarum, Winchester and even some in France.

Red and Green Medieval Stained Glass

Green and red stained glass were likely made by adding copper– in the form of ore or copper filing.  Although the impurities in stained the silica alone usually accounted for a slight amber hue–this process allowed for deeper more pronounced red and oranges especially.

Silver Stain Medieval Stained Glass

In the early Medieval period, bold but still mostly clear glass was created by carefully controlling the furnace conditions to make them appropriate for reducing or oxidizing the area. However, later in the Medieval period (the 14th century) silver stain was introduced which made it possible to create a wider variety of glass hues.

The Importance of Medieval Stained Glass

Although Medieval stained glass windows were made long ago, they have had a huge impact on the modern glass we see today. This was the first era that not only introduced color into stained glass but rapidly developed many of the same colors we use today. Furthermore, with the use of color, this period in time ushered in an era of life-like representations of people, places, and things–not unlike much of what we see in stained glass today.

For more information on stained glass or to get a stain glass windows designed for your Colorado Springs home, contact us here at Scottish Stained glass today!

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