Index Dutch Bronze Age
Index first farmers in the Netherlands
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Colouring the wool blue with woad and
colouring yellow with birch
Weaving, from flax to linen and colouring
Colouring wool yellow or green with birch
At least from the Bronze Age on, the colouring of wool was well-advanced. We
know from some colours, how they were obtained, but the colour blue had been a
riddle for a long time.
It was known from the literature that the plant woad (isatis tinctoria)
was used, and also that during the process the fermentation was also needed.
Chemical research further revealed important facts so we now know how to make
the color blue in a prehistoric way.
- Harvest the woad, cut it in pieces and let it fermentate. The result is a
clay-like ball whcih has to dry and then can be traded
- Place the ball(s) in a "woad-bath" for 1 or 2 days, add bran and a
lot of water. Adding nadder could stimulate the fermentation. The
result is a yellow/greenish fluid.
- Place the white wool (which might have required a previous staining
treatment, like with old urine or with onion skins) in the fluid (but not more
than 10 counts!) When you take out the wool, it will colour blue, right before
Of course the last step sounds "magical" and therefore this result
would have been an incredible, magical, experience for the superstious Iron Age
(wo)men! This experience could also enlarge the status of the weaver....
exact process requires more research so the process can be refined.
The following facts are not quite known:
- The temperature and time of the fermentation (less than 55 oC)
- All data about the nadder (quantity, which part should be used)
Colouring yellow/green with birch
The wool can be coloured with onion skins but this is not a lasting method
because the colour will vanish after about one year.
A better method is:
- Gather thin birch branches with leaves
- Pulverize them and place them in a jar with water (a copper jar produces
yellow, and iron cauldron produces a green colour)
- Place the jar / cauldron near a low fire for 1 day; the water may boil now
and than and stirring is allowed but not required
- Poor the extract into another jar
- Place the wool (which requires a previous staining treatment, like with old
urine or with onion skins) in it for 2 days and heat it twice a day
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