Lincoln green is the colour of dyed woollen cloth associated with
Robin Hood and his merry men in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire.
The dyers of Lincoln, a cloth town in the high Middle Ages, produced
the cloth by dyeing it with woad (Isatis tinctoria) to give it a
strong blue, then overdyeing it yellow with weld (Reseda luteola)
or dyers' broom, Genista tinctoria. "
Coventry blue" and "Kendall
green" were also colours linked with the dyers of English
2 Modern survivals
3 In popular culture
5 See also
The first recorded use of
Lincoln green as a colour name in English
was in 1510. By the late sixteenth century,
Lincoln green was a
thing of the past.
Michael Drayton provided a sidenote in his
Poly-Olbion (published 1612): "Lincoln anciently dyed the best green
in England." Cloth of
Lincoln green was more pleasing than undyed
shepherd's gray cloth: "When they were clothed in Lyncolne grene they
kest away their gray", according to A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode, ca
Lincoln green betokened an old-fashioned forester even in
the fancy dress of Edmund Spenser's The Faery Queene:
"All in a woodman's jacket he was clad
of Lincolne Greene, belay'd with silver lace."
Robin Hood's Garland, the popular ballad printed in eighteenth-century
compilations, offers an unexpected picture of Robin as he presented
himself at court:
He cloathed his men in Lincoln green
And himself in scarlet red"
The distinction was in the cost of scarlet, which was dyed with
kermes, derived from the
Kermes vermilio insect native to the
Mediterranean. Lincoln scarlet, from its imported dyestuff, was more
expensive than Lincoln green. In 1198 the Sheriff of Lincoln bought
ninety ells (about 112 yards) of scarlet cloth for £30 (6s 8d per
ell); although the cloth was a finely finished fabric, its high price
was almost certainly due mainly to the extremely costly dye-stuff,
greyne (graine) from Kermes or scarlet grain. In 1182 the Sheriff
of Lincoln bought Scarlet at 6s 8d/ell,
Green and Blanchet both at
3s/ell and Gray at approximately 1s 8d/ell. By 1216 three guilds
controlling the cloth trade were established in Lincoln, the Weavers',
Dyers', and Fullers' guilds.
"Lincoln-green" was revived in the years prior to the Great War (World
War I), when it was adopted as the colour of the full-dress uniform of
the Lincolnshire Yeomanry. This military version took the form of a
distinctively light shade, which contrasted sharply with the sombre
rifle green widely worn by other regiments of the British Army.
In popular culture
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott in his 1820 classical novel
Ivanhoe mentioned Lincoln
green three times - Chapters VII: "“One of these, a stout well-set
yeoman, arrayed in Lincoln green, having twelve arrows stuck in his
belt,”  Also in Chapters XV and XXXIII.
William Makepeace Thackeray in his 1848 classical novel Vanity Fair
Lincoln Green - Chapter III: "What causes them to labour at
piano-forte sonatas, and to learn four songs from a fashionable master
at a guinea a lesson, and to play the harp if they have handsome arms
and neat elbows, and to wear
Lincoln Green toxopholite hats and
feathers, but that they may bring down some "desirable" young man with
those killing bows and arrows of theirs?"
The colour appears used in the dystopian novel Shades of Grey 1: The
Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde, in which shades of green —
Lincoln green in particular — have narcotic effects.
^ The Child Ballads 117
A Gest of Robyn Hode
A Gest of Robyn Hode (c 1450) "Whan they were
clothed in Lyncolne grene"
^ Reseda luteola.
^ Stefan's Florilegium.
^ Maerz, Aloys John; Paul, Morris Rea (1930). "A Dictionary of Color"
(1st ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill: 69 plate 23 color sample J4; p. 198.
^ Noted in Robert Nares, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps and Thomas
Wright, A Glossary, Or, Collection of Words, Phrases, Names and
Allusions... (1901), s.v. "Lincoln green".
^ Noted in The Journal for Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers, 158 (April
^ Nares 1901.
^ Graine is the dye-stuff, linguistically unrelated to "green".
^ Sir Francis Hill, Medieval Lincoln, 1948, from a publication of the
Pipe Roll Society; noted at Stefan's Florilegium.
^ R.G. Harris, colour plate 11 and text, 50 Years of Yeomanry
Uniforms, Frederick Muller Ltd 1972, SBN 584 10937 7
^ Excerpt From: Walter Scott. “Ivanhoe: A Romance.” iBooks. "
^ Jasper Fforde, Shades Of Grey, 2009, noted at .
List of colours
Shades of green
British racing green
Cal Poly green
Dark moss green
Dark olive green
Dark spring green
A typical sample is shown for each name; a range of color-variations
is commonly associated wit