Article Title

A 17th-Century Glass Bead Factory at Hammersmith Embankment, London, England


Excavations in 2001 and 2005 at Hammersmith Embankment in West London uncovered the remains of two glass furnaces with associated wasters relating to the manufacture of drawn glass beads during the second quarter of the 17th century. The site is significant as it represents the first archaeological evidence for the production of glass beads in post-medieval England. A preliminary study of the recovered material reveals the presence of 43 different bead varieties, many with stripes and multiple layers. While a number have not yet been observed elsewhere, a few have correlatives at a contemporary bead production site in Amsterdam, as well as aboriginal sites in northeastern North America. Comparisons of the chemical compositions of the Hammersmith beads with those of beads from the Amsterdam factory and other loci reveal a number of similarities as well as differences indicating that it will be difficult to identify Hammersmith beads at other sites around the world.

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The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.

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