Nothing more than a hole in wall, they let in a little light and allowed the inhabitants to see who was outside. The other important function remains to this day, to allow ventilation.
The Old Norse word “Vindouga” from which we get “window” sums it up nicely, meaning Wind Eye. It’s a reminder that windows are there for ventilation as well light.
For thousands of years not much changed. Different shaped holes, shutters to keep out excessive drafts, oiled cloth or paper to let in a bit of light. After the Romans left, glass for windows wasn’t made in Britain until the 13th century. The price of this ultra luxury product didn’t drop until the secrets of the German and later Venetian glassmakers eventually got out. It was only the Church and fantastically wealthy who could afford glazed windows.
Early window in a building dating back to 12th century
Most of the glass for windows came to Britain from France until the late 17 century when British manufacturing started on a more industrial scale. Up till then us common folk had to make do with solid shutters.
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