Institute of Archaeology


"Everything Old is New Again" early medieval glass recycling

09 October 2023, 5:00 pm–6:00 pm

UCL Institute of Archaeology (building exterior). Image: Lisa Daniel

The first seminar in the UCL Institute of Archaeology Research Seminar series for Term I, 2023-24 will be given by Victoria Lucas on 9 October.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






Archaeological Sciences Sections


Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6
UCL Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square
United Kingdom


In the last decade, recycling has become a ubiquitous presence in papers published on the chemical analyses of glass of the first millennium CE. It is becoming increasingly clear that recycling to greater or lesser degrees played a key role in the production of glass objects, and was a firmly embedded part of glassworkers' practice. 

However, there has been a tendency to approach recycling as a monolithic practice, with many papers simply noting evidence for recycling without any great consideration of the complexity or nuance of the specific human actions and decisions that led to the chemical signatures we lump together as "recycling", nor the specific social and economic contexts in which such recycling practices were taking place.

The early medieval period offers an excellent opportunity to attempt to untangle some of this complexity, as analyses have indicated a glassworking system that was heavily reliant on recycled material.

This paper will present the results of my PhD research combining analyses of early medieval (7th - 10th century CE) window and vessel glass from four key sites in England, along with recycling experiments that shed light on the mechanisms by which recycling changes the chemical composition of glass and the effects on its workability. It attempts to identify a variety of recycling practices across different types and colours of glass, and to contextualise these practices as part of the wider landscape of trade and exchange, and the roles of secular and ecclesiastical power in the 7th - 10th  centuries. 

UCL Institute of Archaeology Research Seminars Programme | Term I, 2023-24

The Term I seminar series will again highlight current Institute of Archaeology research. These are scheduled to be in-person events; where speakers have agreed, a recording may be made available afterwards.

Mondays, 5pm 

[6 November: Reading Week - no seminar]