madder plant

 Recording the events of September 1066
raven sketch

Find out about the battle of Fulford

Dye cultivation
Dyeing 05
Dyeing threads 2


The battle of Fulford website


Panel 1 - Scarborough


  Panel 2 - Rampage through Holderness


  Panel 3 - Preparing for battle


Panel 4 -Confrontation


Panel 5 - Outflanking at the ford  


Panel 6 - King Harald enters York

Visiting Fulford

Map York

Tapestry Colours

Conservators report that the colours of the threads are still vibrant. This is probably because the Bayeux Tapestry has been stored for most of its life in the dark and is now displayed in low light conditions.
They used natural dyes for their wool threads so this was the route we chose for the Fulford Tapestry..
Only eight thread colours? 

This is what the experts tell us were the colours in the Bayeux tapestry.

bullet terracotta red
bullet blue-green
bulletold gold/Yellow
bulleta blue that is so dark it looks black

But on close inspection, the Bayeux tapestry has a much more extensive range of hues and intensities.

And, there are so many shades that can be achieved with the range of natural dyes that there really is a full spectrum of hues, with only the very dark colours posing a problem. 

Repairs at various times were carried out in light-yellow, orange, black and a light green thread. Conservators are correcting errors made in earlier restorations. 


The colours make no attempt at naturalism. The embroiders a thousand years ago had a pallet of colours limited by the natural dyes that were available. However, our work has shown that a sophisticated pallet of shades and tones can be created. The original embroiders were masters of their art as they only employed dyes that were know to be stable.


The fastness of the colours they used in the Bayeux Tapestry is truly remarkable. Those lucky enough to have inspected the work report that the colours within the threads are still vibrant. But pale as well as  very dark colours appear not to be particularly stable. 

So the choice of bold colours is consistent with the available technology which is precisely what they were trying to achieve in the design. 


The colours can provide the contrast and help focus the  design. So you will see some blue horses and others that are piebald in a range of incredible hues! The colour is chosen to suit the setting.


So  these were the recommendations given to the embroiderers

bulletThe choice of colours will be left to those executing each piece.
bulletYou will find that the threads have slightly different shades and intensities of colour which you can employ to add texture and perspective to the figures.
bulletAs with the direction of laying, it makes sense to plan the colours before work begins on a group or area. Feel free to insert a bit of thread to remind you of the direction and colour.
bulletIf there is a limited supply of the colour you need, take out all that you require and put it in a separate marked bag to ensure that you have enough to complete the area you are working on.
bulletWhen working with the blue thread, some of the colour will stain your fingers but is easily washed off your hands but much harder to remove from the linen.
bulletToo many pastel shades together are not good. Here are a few guidance notes
bulletFirst, assign colours to the key image This is normally a person. Important people have bright robes, the ordinary folk have dull colours.
bulletThen assign colours appropriate to objects such as trees. There is no need to be natural a red or a yellow tree might be fine.
bulletHorses, building and ships can also have surreal colours if that provides overall, colour balance. Brown buildings are boring!

Read about the battle that inspired the tapestry

Panel 1 from the coloured design

The author of the content is Charles Jones -

Supported with lottery funding from:


launched May 2012

last updated Dec 2012

Panel 6 from the original sketch

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