art: 1. From the Vale of the White Horse; 2. Dawn from Dragon Hill; 3. Across the Vale; 4. White Horse Hill

The Uffington White Horse, overlooking the northern vale to which it lends its name, has been a landmark for centuries. The aging debate has ranged from placing it in the Dark Ages at in 800CE (it was known to have been recut to celebrate Alfred the Great’s victory over the Danes) through to the recent redating through 1994’s optically stimulated luminescence, as between middle bronze age at 1400BCE and early iron age at 600BCE. Before 1994 the consensus was that it was likely to be iron age from 100BCE. Although regularly recut over the years, it appears that only the “beak” may have been shortened and the body thinned. It was constructed by digging trenches and then packing them with chalk rather than purely removing the topsoil, and its 360’ long form was scoured every 7 years during a 2 day festival, a public celebration which was stopped in the early C20th. Neolithic and bronze age burial mounds, reused by the Romans and Saxons, litter the area, and it stands off the neolithic Ridgeway track. The hill figure is overlooked itself by an iron age hillfort, once sarsen-lined with small ramparts dating to 600BCE. Beneath is Dragon Hill, a natural flat-topped mound with a crescent of bare chalk showing through. Legend has it that this is where St George slew the dragon, despite many histories placing George in the Near East, and that the bare chalk is where the blood spilled and consequently nothing can grow there. Further legends tell of the benefits of making a wish whilst standing on the horse’s eye. There is of course, the on-going query as to whether the hill figure is actually a dragon.
OS: SU.302.866 South of the B4057 west of Wantage.

image pending
oil on canvas, 20" x 8", 2004, £115

oil on canvas, 40" x 30", 2001, £345
Ltd Ed prints available (/250), Postcard prints available

A view of the White Horse and Dragon Hill, from beneath the ramparts of the hillfort. Probably the most tranquil and atmospheric ancient site in Britain. I once met a lady called Ann here, who said she was the daughter of Uffington's blacksmith, then proceded to relate tales of ghostly battles she heard in the hillfort, of a cloud which followed her home, and psychically touched a chap away on Dragon Hill. A lovely addition to the tales of Wayland's Smithy half a mile down the Ridgeway, although I was left with the impression that I had been talking with an urban myth.
Click HERE to read The Ridgeway (Pt 2)

charcoal, A3, 2000, £75

Sketched on a very chilly late October daybreak with only rabbits for company. A beautiful dawn it was too - but then they all are. Later I saved a very small dog from being herded over the steep drop of The Manger by frisky sheep whilst his master was obliviously jogging round the hillfort.

ink & wash, A3, 2000, £40

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