An annular turquoise/blue glass bead, probably of the Roman period. The bead is sub-circular in plan with an off centre perforation and a sub-oval section.



Dating glass beads without other contextual evidence can be very tricky. A Roman dating is most probable for finds of this nature, but a later dating is also possible since beads using a similar method of manufacture were produced for an extended period.


This bead is likely to have been made from drawn glass with the aid of a blowpipe. A hollow cone of glass sat on a hollow rod in a bellows fed furnace. The blown ’tube’ of glass was drawn from the furnace and cut to form individual beads, which were finished by grinding and polishing. This process enabled the Romans to mass-produce a vast number of similar beads. The striations present on the surface of the bead are likely to be the result of a rotary action employed by the blower when drawing the bead from the furnace. Further striations sometimes observed were added by probable lathe-fed polishing operations and the circular pits within the surface are probably the product of abrading bubbles of air present within the glass. The manufacturing process was copied, refined and adapted by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings who became masters of their own unique brand of bead manufacture.