Cambridge 2008




How to Save these Fabulous Shards?The Archaeological Window Glass Collection of the
Dunes Abbey in Koksijde, Belgium

Hilde Wouters, Harry van Royen, & Karin Nys
Vrije universiteit Brussel (VUB)

As far as Belgium and archaeological window glass is concerned, the most important Cistercian site is the Dunes Abbey - Koksijde (County of Flanders). Excavations took place between 1949 and 2006. Up till now a fully integrated report is lacking. This collection of archaeological window glass contains more or less 15 000 fragments of stained- and plain window glass. The dating range is 13th century to 1578, when the local protestant authority confiscated the abbey and started with the demolition of the whole abbey site. Most of the fragments were once part of grisaille windows but coloured and figurative stained glass was also part of the fenestration of the monastery in this dating range.   This collection is in a precarious condition as it was badly excavated and stored for decennia and will be totally lost without a professional conservation treatment. This contribution is a first glimpse about how we found these fabulous shards, what we already did and are planning to do in the near future to save this unique part of cultural heritage.

Hilde Wouters is Master in Conservation of stained glass and Master in Art Sciences and Archaeology. Currently she started at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) in a multidisciplinary research project focussed on the production of a low-cost device for optic analyses, based on the colour and the composition of glass. Her PhD research is about the ways in which the Cistercian monasteries in Europe were glazed, based on the study of archaeological window glass and lead cames. A final selection of Cistercian sites in Europe will be made originating from a large geographical area ranging from the north of England down to Cyprus and from Portugal to Sweden. 

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