Scottish window glass from both archaeological sites and historic buildings was examined using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and scanning electron microscopy – energy-dispersive X-ray micro-analysis (SEM–EDX). The elemental composition of the glass provides information regarding the materials used and, subsequently, an approximate range of dates of manufacture. pXRF is shown to be more vulnerable than SEM–EDX to the effects of surface corrosion and matrix effects in archaeological samples. The study showed that the production of window glass in Scotland from the 17th century onwards appears to closely parallel that in England. It also demonstrated the potential of pXRF for in situ studies of window glass in historic buildings. pXRF was used to assess two Scottish buildings; one in state care and one in private ownership. The building in state care, the Abbot's House at Arbroath Abbey, showed a uniform glass type, suggesting that the building was re-glazed completely at some point during the late 19th or early 20th century. The building in private ownership, Traquair House, had a range of glass types and ages, demonstrating a different maintenance and repair regime. This type of data can be useful in understanding historic buildings in the future, particularly if re-glazing is being considered.
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National Museums Scotland
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University of Oxford, 2012
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