Ochre Mining

Ochre mining at Clearwell CavesClearwell Caves are amongst the earliest and one of the last producers of ochre (natural earth pigment) in the British Isles. Ochre is now thought to have been mined here for more than 7000 years (since the Middle Stone Age). Ochre pigment is found as a soft deposit intermingled with pockets of harder crystalline iron ore.

Until the 1930's Forest of Dean mines were famous for good quality, rich pigments, particularly shades of red and purple. Purple ochre is an unusual natural earth pigment, similar colours are usually only available in synthetic forms. The mines at Clearwell were well known for the quality and wide range of ochre colours available. Yellow, orange, brown, red and purple ochre is still mined here; dug by hand, using simple tools much as the ancient miners would have done. After careful sieving, the ochre is either washed, or milled.

Prices: yellow, brown, red and purple ochres.

15ml     £4.00
60ml    £13.90
120ml    £24.50
250ml  £40.00 

VAT @20% included, P&P at cost.

A 250ml jar will give medium to strong colour to an area of 40m2, using casein paint.

Due to the natural variations that occur with ochres, we are unable to ensure specific colours can be produced or repeated. We therefore recommend that people chose pigment by visiting our shop and buy sufficient to complete the work in hand, if consistent colour is required. 

Samples of ochreOchre colours vary from pocket to pocket, we maintain the variety and uniqueness of colour from each natural pocket where possible. This means that we cannot produce standard swatches for our pigments. Choose from the range available in the mine shop, or to discuss individual requirements contact either Ray or Jonathan.

The use of natural ochres is ecologically sound,
requires no chemical processing.
Ochres are harmless to living things
and will eventually return to where they originated - the Earth, with no adverse effects.

Natural pigments produce paradoxically vibrant, yet subtle, colour at the same time. Unlike artificial colours they have the ability to produce pleasing results in almost any combination: these qualities make natural paints exciting and are some of the reasons why they are becoming part of our lives once more.

We have been open to the public for more than 40 years and throughout this time we have produced ochre for special orders, for restoration of ancient buildings and for use by artists. Ochre can be mixed with any artist's medium, whether oil or water based, and is widely recognised as being one of the most light fast and permanent of pigments.