Why Roman stones were more colourful than you realised…

A wide view of a gallery space in a museum. There is a large platform in the centre of the room housing a scale model of Hadrian’s Wall.
The Hadrian’s Wall Gallery at the Great North Museum: Hancock
A Roman stone altar showing the god Mithras. He wears a robe and has a halo of sunbeams behind his head.
Altar to Mithras dedicated by Marcus Simplicius Simplex at the Carrawburgh Mithraeum. Now housed in the Great North Museum: Hancock
How Roman stones might have looked. Three altars and a relief showing a bull being killed by the god Mithras are painted in bright primary colours.
A reconstruction of Mithraic stonework from Carrawburgh giving an impression of how the original Roman paintwork might have looked. The altar of Marcus Simplicius Simplex is on the left
Seven Roman sandstone altars in a museum. They are upright cuboid sculptures carved with Latin inscriptions and decorations.
The group of seven Roman altars in the Hadrian’s Wall Gallery
Seven Roman sandstone altars in a museum. This time they have colourful embellishments projected onto the stone surface in white, yellow, red and blue.
The altars transformed. The projections give a vivid impression of the original colour scheme
A short film explaining the Roman Britain in Colour Display with Dr Rob Collins of the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project
Close up of a sandstone Roman altar. It features a projected image of a soldier pouring either red wine or animal blood onto the top of an altar.
This altar set up to Fortuna may have been the focus of ritual offerings using either wine or animal blood
A woman with short hair and glasses is painting the letters of a Latin inscription on a Roman stone using red paint.
Mary Hurrell painting a Roman inscription from Risingham Roman fort in the former Museum of Antiquities



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums


Major regional museum, art gallery and archives service. We manage a collection of nine venues across Tyneside and the Archives for Tyne and Wear.