Stone used as floating wick holder, Shetland, 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The most basic form of lamp is a hollowed-out stone. This one came from the Shetland Islands and was used in the 19th century. Similar examples have been found in the caves at Lascaux, France, dating from about 15,000 years ago. Such lamps have been widely used throughout the world. They were first used several thousand years ago, and would have burned grease, or oil made from fish or seagulls, and used a fibre wick.