Anglo-Saxon Manuscript Pigments

  • Clarke M
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Abstract

There has been a lack of analyses of early manuscript pigments that use reliable and unambiguous analytical techniques. An interdisciplinary methodology for identifying which pigments were used on Anglo-Saxon manuscripts (those from England, ca. 600 to ca. 1066 AD) was applied, and a pilot series of analyses was carried out. A list of likely pigments was compiled from contemporary written sources, from analyses of near-contemporary European manuscripts, and from archaeological finds of raw colorants or colored artifacts. Pigments were analyzed using micro-Raman spectroscopy and near-infrared imaging. Results are presented. Analysis provided data mainly on inorganic pigments, and information on organic pigments was derived principally from other indirect sources of evidence. Preliminary patterns of pigment use were identified, correlating with the places, dates, and workshops of origin. Minium, verdigris, carbon black, and orpiment were found throughout, with indigotin in the earliest examples, and shellfish purple and lead white in some deluxe books. Ultramarine started to be used ca. 1000 but apparently only in Canterbury. There is some late use of azurite and red ocher. The results presented are the first reliable ones since 1885.

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