Recreating Scotland’s stained-glass windows

RESEARCHER want to commission an artist to reproduce Scotland’s stained-glass windows.

Most of Scotland’s stained-glass windows in churches were destroyed during the Reformation in 1560.

Craig Kennedy, from Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Sustainable Building Design, and Michael Penman, a historian from the University of Stirling, have analysed glass fragments and historical records from Elgin Cathedral and Dunfermline Abbey.

Thirty shards of glass were examined from Elgin during a previous study, and now 16 have been studied from Dunfermline.

“The glass recovered from Elgin was red, brown, blue, green, and clear, and many of the clear sections were decorated in the French grisaille style,” explained Kennedy.

“Elgin Cathedral’s windows may have had grisaille borders and abstract top lights highlighting saintly figures.

“As to who those figures were, we have a number of candidates: The Virgin, Thomas Becket, St Columba of Iona, and a few others are known to have regional dedications in the North-East.”

Kennedy added: “It is fascinating that a site of such national importance as Dunfermline Abbey has yielded so few glass shards to date.

“This site – Scotland’s national mausoleum – yielded red, white, and blue glass samples.

“This site had a highly-spiritual connection with St Margaret, and we can assume that high-quality narrative glass was at some time installed in the abbey.”

Studying the glass fragments has also shone a light on Scotland’s overseas trade links.

Now, the researchers want to commission a glass artist to re-create medieval glass, which could tour Scotland to give people a “window to the past”.

Penman said: “All the stained glass currently in Scottish churches of a medieval origin is modern, from the 19th and 20th century and often for Protestant congregations.

“If our research can identify a distinctive Scottish palette and styles for stained and painted medieval church glass, either figurative or decorative, then an artist might be able to recreate the imagery and thus the spiritual and huge emotional effect of such windows on Scottish worshippers before the Reformation.”

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