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Using handheld pXRF to study medieval stained glass: A methodology using trace elements

Adlington, LW; Freestone, IC; (2017) Using handheld pXRF to study medieval stained glass: A methodology using trace elements. MRS Advances , 2 (33-34) pp. 1785-1800. 10.1557/adv.2017.233. Green open access

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The surfaces of 30 pieces of glass from panel 3b of the Great East Window of York Minster (1405-1408 CE) were analyzed by handheld portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF) and small samples from the same pieces were analyzed by electron microprobe (EPMA). Comparison of the two methods reveals significant divergences which are not systematic, particularly for elements lighter than Ti. Rather than a problem with pXRF calibration or correction software, the non-systematic error is attributable to the presence of a thin surface layer of weathered glass. Analysis of the depths of X-ray generation indicate that virtually all X-rays characteristic of Ca and K are generated within the top 50 µm of the glass. However, for heavier elements such as Rb, Sr and Zr, most emitted X-rays are generated below 100 µm. Using pXRF data for the heavier elements, it is possible to replicate the compositional groupings identified by quantitative EPMA. White glass in the window is likely to have originated in England, while colored glasses were probably obtained from the Continent. The alkali contents of the green and yellow glasses appear to have been manipulated to generate their colors. Glass which is medieval in technology but not original to the panel was identified. In particular, zirconium proved a useful indicator of glassmaking regions, and rubidium and strontium were more sensitive to differences between batches, which has interesting implications for future work.

Type: Article
Title: Using handheld pXRF to study medieval stained glass: A methodology using trace elements
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1557/adv.2017.233
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1557/adv.2017.233
Language: English
Additional information: This article has been published in a revised form in MRS Advances: https://doi.org/10.1557/adv.2017.233. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. Copyright © Materials Research Society 2017.
Keywords: Archaeology, x-ray fluorescence, electron microprobe
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1541186
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