A group of researchers in England have found through their study that the stained glass panels at Canterbury Cathedral may be much older than earlier thought. The stained glass windows that depicted the Ancestors of Christ in the painting were analysed by a group of researchers from the University College London. Their findings were published in the Heritage journal this week.
The researchers have mentioned that their new analyses found that the glass was dating back to the period 1130-1160, which is at least a decade before Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket’s infamous murder at the site in 1170. In a press statement, UCL mentioned that the team of scientists used chemical analysis to investigate a suggestion made by art historian Madeline Caviness in the 1980s that mentioned the four panels installed in the 1400s to be stylistically much older.
To run their research, the group of scientists studied the Cathedral windows using a non-destructive method of chemical analysis called portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF). The team followed an approach developed for the purpose by one of the former PhD students at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, Laura Ware Adlington, who was also leading the research.
This was the first time that a group of researchers was adapting a methodology, which used a specially-designed attachment for the spectrometer, a window analyser or ‘windolyser’. With such avant-garde methods in place, scientists were able to access an accurate non-destructive analysis of the glass, without the need to remove physical samples from the windows.
Their findings suggested that the glass of one of the four stylistically distinctive windows, which depicted the prophet Nathan, was made using earlier glass than other 13th-century windows.
Lead author of the study, Adlingtontold UCL News that in their research, they found a change in the type of glass used in the Cathedral, which occurred in the late twelfth century or possibly very early in the thirteenth century.