ANST - Organic dye
JulieAnna D. Rohde
treschen at microtutors.com
Tue Aug 5 09:11:49 PDT 1997
You know, your squire does costume research. I have recently read about
three red dyes. Madder is believed to have been the most common red dye in
England. The dye was made from the roots of Dyer's madder (Rubia Tinctorum
L.). Sources say that it usually produced a warm brick-red, but could also
produce peach, yellow, violet, brown and tan and could boost greens and
blues. This plant was not native to England, but it is believed that it
was introduced early and was grown in Anglo-Saxon time, so that would be
close to 'period' for your persona. Sorry, I don't have any sources for
the plant or recipes for making the dye, but its a name for you to work
Another dye was 'Kermes'. It was derived from the kermes shield louse
(Kermes vermilio), a Mediterranean insect which was imported to England
under the name 'grain'.
A third dye was made from brazilwood which was obtained from the heartwood
of the trees in the Caesalpinia family. It was imported into Europe from
the late 12th C on.
These dyes were all found on fabric pieces recovered from excavations in
London. Unfortunately, the fabric samples were all wool or silk because
linen does not survive burial well. The only linen pieces so far recovered
have been preserved because they were partially burnt or were covered in
pitch. No dyes have been able to be identified from these sources. Of
course the linens that have survived in treasuries and now in museums have
been the shroud and tablecloth type pieces which were left natural or
bleached white. So, dyes specific to linen have not been mentioned in
anything I've read so far.
Hope this helps. My major source for the above is: Medieval Finds From
Excavations in London: Textiles and Clothing c.1150-c.1450, Elisabeth
Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard and Kay Staniland, Museum of London, 1992.
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