Revealing the chemical make up of pigments can help us understand the cultural and historical aspects of manuscripts

Texts from antiquity, such as the famous Lindisfarne Gospels, have long been a source for scholars to piece together our history. Now, with the advent of portable spectroscopic devices, the chemical makeup of the pigments used can give us an extra way to understand the social and cultural conditions of the age.

Kate Nicholson, of Durham Universty, UK, has been ‘taking the Raman on the road’ to study the Durham Gospels. Her work has helped to further understand their relationship to the Lindisfarne gospels, as well as track the arrival of pigments from overseas.

She spoke to Neil Withers about her work:

Read more from our chemistry and art theme issue