Early Medieval Irish Glass Beads~ Recreating 6th-7th Century Spiral bead found in Newtownbalregen.

This is a reproduction of a bead found in Newtownbalregan.  During the M1 Dundalk Western bypass project. The bead was found in a Ring fort 2km northwest of Dundalk in advance of the construction of the Dundalk western bypass. The previously unknown site was discovered while doing a test trench by the IAC in March 2002 and excavation was completed between March and September 2003. The complete final report on the dig can be found here in a doc format.


Illustration of ring Fort in Newtownbalregan where the bead was found.



You can find more information on the archaeological site here: http://www.asi-louth.ie/exhibition-newtownbalregan.php


Photo of the original bead on display at the county museum, Dundalk.

bead newt

My reproduction of the bead below.


A description of the bead from Glass beads of Early Medieval Ireland by Mags Minion is as follows:

Spiral marvered  decorated yellow beads.

Classified as a class 7 bead in book. They are normally spherical in shape and the spiral form marvered flush with the surface. The body is usually translucent yellow in color, with the decoration applied being an opaque yellow. The surface of the bead can be decorated with either two or three spirals, evenly distributed around the circumference, and interlinked on account of the fact that the decoration is applied in a continuous line. Not withstanding that they are found on early medieval sites, stratified and associated with other datable material. (p 25)


Glass bead reproductions from Early Medieval Ireland ~The Mulberry bead

Recently I purchased a very amazing book called Glass Beads from Early Medieval Ireland by Mags Minion. If you make historical beads, I recommend this book. It was designed for historical bead makers for sure. I loved this book so much I am doing a category in my blog on these beads. As I reproduce them, I will post the bead, my reproduction and its relevant information.

This photo shows a picture of the original bead from page 23 of this book. The second and third beads are photos of my glass reproduction.

I had never seen a historical example of this bead before getting this book.  When I first saw it my first though was “Well that bead maker was creative!”




The Mulberry bead

The beads in Mags Minion;s book:  Glass Beads from Early Medieval Ireland are classified though type. This bead is a type 12 bead. The following paragraph is from page 28 regarding  this bead type.

“Class 12 beads are so-called because the surface of the bead is covered with raised segments resembling a mulberry. The beads conform to a standard size or a diameter of 10mm, a length of 9mm and a perforation of 3-4mm. Mulberry beads  can be composed of clear translucent glass or semi translucent glass in a variety of shades. An example is known from Lagore (Hencken, 1950 145 figure 67 B). There are numerous examples of class 12 beads in a variety of colors among unprovenance examples in the National Museum. A class 12 bead was found during the excavation of the early medieval enclosure at Lissue in Co. Antrim (Bersu 1947, 51: Warner 1986-87).  Finds from the site including a wooden churn and lathe turned vessels  have been typologically dated to the 9th century.(Sullivan et al 2010 58). A ‘trial piece’  with interlace decoration was also found during the excavation (Bersu 1947,51). four beads of this type were subjected to chemical analysis and returned 8th to 12th century date (Warner and Meighan 1994, 52-66) Given the  the available dating evidence it is most likely the type dates to the later end of the period under study and may possible even continue after it. “