Glass is a relatively common find on Iron Age sites, usually in the form of beads or bangles. The first comprehensive study and classification of Iron Age glass beads (Guido 1978) has been recently re-examined to assess new material and to reconsider the findings in view of changing theoretical approaches (Foulds 2014; 2017). The corpus consists mainly of unstratified stray finds traditionally assigned a broad chronological range of 2nd century BC–2nd century AD. The distribution of glass beads and bangles suggests two traditions: in north-east Scotland and in southern Scotland/northern England (Hunter 2015c, 235–6). The current glass bangle typology remains Kilbride-Jones (1938). 

Evidence for glass production and its organisation remains unclear across much of Iron Age Britain (Foulds 2017, 17). However, recent work at Culduthel, Inverness-shire, has produced the first secure evidence for glass working in Scotland (Hatherley and Murray 2021; HighARF Case Study Iron Age Craftworking at Culduthel). There is no evidence for primary glass manufacture in Scotland and scientific analysis of glass beads from the north-east has shown they were made from imported glass ingots from Mediterranean sources (Davis and Freestone 2021, 217; Bertini et al 2011). 

Small opaque yellow annular beads of Guido Class 8 (Guido 1978, 73–6) are widespread and commonly found on Iron Age settlements, for example, such as the Shanzie souterrain (Coleman and Hunter 2002) and the Queen’s View monumental roundhouse Loch Tummel (Taylor 1990). Other glass beads found in Perth and Kinross include a small pale blue example from Moredun fort (Strachan et al forthcoming), a pale green toggle reworked from Roman glass, from the Black Spout (Strachan 2013, 46–9; Case Study The Black Spout) and a Roman melon bead from Castle Craig broch, found alongside other Roman and Iron Age glass finds including fragments of bangles (Poller et al forthcoming; Case Study Castle Craig Broch). 

It is important to consider the glass beads from Perth and Kinross within the wider context of northern Scotland. The north-east corpus between the Dee and the Moray Firth is dominated by decorated spiral beads and annular beads of various colours (Guido’s Class 13 and 14), with outliers as far north as the Orkneys (Guido 1978, 85–9). The striking absence of these from Perth and Kinross raises questions concerning the control of glass as a raw material, trade networks, regionality and the use or rejection of specific types of personal ornament to maintain and project social identities.