Some of the finest stained glass windows ever made were produced in Scotland. Glasgow, home of the Glasgow School of Art, is considered by many to be the “stained glass capital” of the world. What’s more, Scottish artists have been making stained glass windows for centuries. For this reason, Scotland’s stained glass is known for its exceptional quality and beauty.
Like most of Europe, stained glass reached its height in popularity during the Middle Ages. Fragments of Medieval stained glass have been recovered in Scotland from numerous monastic sites. Most of these are believed to have been manufactured during the 13th and 14th centuries and are of the potassium rich ‘forest glass’ variety. As the art form evolved, artists began using different recipes to make their stained glass. Both high lime low alkali glasses as well as mixed alkali glass have been discovered during archaeological examinations.
One of the most famous examples of stained glass in Scotland is the Magdalen Chapel, built between 1541 and 1544. The stained glass windows in this chapel are still intact today and are among the very few that survived the Scottish Reformation. Shards of antique stained glass have also been recovered from Morison’s Haven, Elgin and St Andrews cathedrals, Blackfriars monastery, and Elcho Priory.
Many of Scotland’s church stained glass windows no longer exist due to the Scottish Reformation. During this time, Scotland broke ties with the Papacy and developed a more Presbyterian outlook. As a result, church architecture was revolutionized and almost all of Scotland’s medieval stained glass was destroyed.
As attitudes shifted, stained glass experienced a revival in Scotland and once again found its way into mainstream architecture. Today, beautiful examples of stained glass can be found in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, and many other areas of the country.