The artist must have been a skilled chemist. Using a handful
of local materials he developed an extensive colour palette
- Purples, crimsons and blues from plant extracts such
as woad, lichens and folium (turnsole)
- Yellow from orpiment (trisulphide of arsenic)
- Red/orange from toasted lead
- Green from verdigris, made by suspending copper over
vinegar, or by a blue-yellow mix (vergaut)
- White from chalk, crushed seashell or eggshell
- Black from carbon.
Pigments were mixed with adhesive beaten egg-white (glair).
Ink was made from oak-galls and iron salts to an extremely
good recipe. Some fine details were added in gold-leaf and powdered gold ink.
The Lindisfarne Gospels uses surprisingly few materials,
making its technical achievement all the more remarkable.