Dyeing on Dartmoor

Thanks to funding from The Royal Society, we looked at the huge influence the wool trade has had on moorland life and how our ancestors used local plants and minerals to fix and dye their animal skins, yarn or fabrics.

The local Dartmoor sheep are hardy creatures who have provided fleece for clothing, carpets and furnishings for centuries. We will look at what plants could have been foraged from the Moor to dye their wool, how metals were used to improve the take up of dyes and the process of doing natural dyeing. We will also look at how fleece are prepared by washing, carding and spinning, then weaving or knitting.

We looked at colour and how it affects us and how the chemical dyeing of today, in our world of fast fashion, is destroying the health of people, waterways and the planet.

As well as a yearlong exhibition at the museum, we worked with experts and community groups, in all these fields, who will kindly demonstrated their skills at the museum.

Visual foraging walks also took place to discover dye plants and to see the archaeology that shows that sheep have been on Dartmoor for centuries.

Dartmoor Wool Walk

Colouring Wool on Dartmoor


Credits for some of the images in our Gallery: