Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

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SteinGrimm
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Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby SteinGrimm » Fri Aug 09, 2013 10:33 am

Hi, I was just wondering if anyone had any experience with the use of naturally black wool in this time period, as I can't seem to find anything relating to this. I know that there was a stigma around black sheep in the last few hundred years, but I'm unsure if a similar outlook was had at any point during those time periods, or even if the kind of sheep which produces the color was around at the time.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, since I really don't want to go through the trouble of getting the materials together to dye anything black naturally if I don't have to. Thanks.



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sally
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Re: Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby sally » Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:53 am

there are tables showing frequency of wool pigmentation at Coppergate here: http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/resour ... uction.pdf its onl something like a third of the angloscandinavian wool was pigmented, and by the medieval period all the samples found were white



FionaDowson
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Re: Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby FionaDowson » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:00 pm

Penelope Walton Rogers has suggested that most of the fleece in the dark ages would have been brown or black as these would have been primitive breeds. Soays (Balmoral, Flag Fen, Tintagel) are a chocolate brown, Hebrideans are black.

Of the sheep bones found at West Stow (430 to 650) it's not possible to tell if they are sheep or goat as primitive sheep are pretty much like goats

The big wave of improved breeds came in the C18

Most people would have worn dark colours for a practical reasons. YOu can hardly go stalking deer while wearing white and why would you want white clothing if you spend your day up to your knees in mud behind an ox plough?

Walton Rogers has suggested that there was very little dyeing in Anglo Saxon England, apart from the little used for brighter colours for tablet weaving decorative trim for edges



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PaulMurphy
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Re: Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby PaulMurphy » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:14 pm

Beware of selective reading or quoting, as what the YAT report actually says is:

http://www.yorkarchaeology.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AY17-11-Textile-Production.pdf wrote:At Coppergate only one-third of the Anglo-Scandinavian wool, whether raw or processed, was pigmented (and the medieval wools were all white). White wool is vital if the fibre is to be dyed and dyeing formed a significant part of textile production at Coppergate in the Anglo-Scandinavian period.


Note the use of "pigmented" - i.e. one third of the the raw wool was from brown or black breeds, not that only one third of the wool was dyed. Almost all wool would be dyed, and wool which is so dark that it cannot readily be dyed will be of lower value - which is exactly why religious orders which took a vow of poverty dressed in black. Brown wool is still useful, as it can be dyed to produce darker shades than are necessarily available by dyeing white wool, depending on how much of the dye stuff can be taken up by the fabric.

After this period textile production became a much more large scale process, and much of the wool production of England was shipped raw to the low countries for processing and dyeing, returning to England as cloth ready for cutting.


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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby Brother Ranulf » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:34 pm

Paul makes a good point about darker wool staples being of less value. The strange thing is that black habits do not seem to have been generally worn until about 1100; previously grey, brown or off-white undyed cloth was used. Some writers have claimed that the very act of dying habits black was indicative of the growing wealth of the Church, but personally I do not support that view. I think it more likely that it was a reaction to the new Cistercian order (1098) and the need for an obvious Benedictine identity.


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138

FionaDowson
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Re: Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby FionaDowson » Tue Jan 12, 2016 6:10 pm

So, should Friar Tuck, as a friar (not a monk) wear grey rather than brown?

I've been catching up with the Child ballads on Liber Vox and in the old ballads he's a wonderfully eccentric fellow. Dear Brother Ranulph - are you a happy monk like our dear Friar Tuck? I can't imagine you as a glum chap



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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Use of Naturally Black Wool in 400 - 1100 CE Britain

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:21 pm

Friar Tuck was a latecomer to the Robin Hood legends - the first mention of Robin is in about 1377, while Tuck only appears in the late 15th century. There was, however, a ballad of the 1400s called "Robin Hood and the Monk"; another, later, ballad is called Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar. In all of the ballads the setting is about 200 - 300 years before they were written, with very little understanding of that earlier era.
The first Order of Friars in England were the Franciscans (10 September 1224), who probably wore grey robes at that time, later variously brown or grey. The "Curtal Friar" of the ballad was not named, but he was said to be of Fountains Abbey which should have made him a Cistercian monk (who dressed in natural undyed wool habits).

Clearly the stories are confused and garbled, with no clear picture of what Tuck was supposed to be. As a Franciscan friar he should have been in brown or grey, but the Dominican friars wore an off-white habit and scapular under a black cloak and hood (hence "Black Friars").

What of Brother Ranulf? He rarely speaks of himself, except to say that his ventriloquist impression of a boiling kettle has often fooled thirsty re-enactors :coffee: :angel:


Brother Ranulf



"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138


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