Lakenheath
Wall Paintings Project

Q. What are the paints made from?

 

The paints were made up from two separate parts—a pigment, or colour, and a liquid binding ingredient. The binding ingredients were usually things such as water, egg paste, animal based glues and casein (curd from sour milk). More costly paints, unlikely to have been used here in Lakenheath, could be bound with linseed oil.

The actual colours were produced in many different ways and the pigments often came from some very unusual sources. The simplest colours were the blacks and whites, both used extensively in Lakenheath, which could be most simply produced from charcoal or slaked lime. Rich reds could be obtained from vermillion (in expensive cases) or red lead and red ochres. The ochres, naturally occurring iron-rich earths, could also be used to produce a variety of oranges and yellows. The more unusual colours, such as blue , were also the most expensive. The finest blue pigment, ultramarine, was made from crushed lapis lazuli—and was as expensive as gold.

Frequently asked questions