Paint Pot, Battle Abbey

Late 15th to 16th century

English Heritage

English Heritage
United Kingdom

This pot, found north of the reredorter, contains traces of vermilion red paint, which was almost as expensive as gold leaf. Artists used small pots like this because they only made up as much paint as they would use that day to prevent wastage. Paint was made by combining powdered pigment with ‘glair’ (egg white and water) to create a liquid.

However, this object was not made for use as a paint pot. Recent research suggests that it was originally used in the making of lead white paint. A lead pot, usually larger than this, would be filled with vinegar or urine and left to heat up in dung or compost. The lead oxide formed on the lid would be crushed for use as pigment.

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