Staff: Mary Davis

There has been much recent interest in the use and significance of colour on prehistoric artefacts and monuments. Within this context there have been several references to white material found within the incised decoration of prehistoric ceramics, but there has been no comprehensive study to evaluate this material. Deliberately reddened and blackened surfaces have also been noted. This study uses a combination of visual and analytical techniques to assess the extent to which deliberate coloration was applied, and is still preserved on Early Bronze Age material, within our collections. The study concentrates on beakers, food vessels and accessory vessels; the beakers and accessory vessels in particular show similarities in the way in which the decoration is incised and stamped onto the ceramic surface, allowing a natural crevice to key in a contrasting coloured material. White inlays were often of calcined bone; calcite and gypsum were also used.