Wednesday 11 July 2012

Tree on the Ramparts at Burrough Hill

This is a small painting, completed in one evening (at the expense of the washing up). I managed to get the bulk of the colour work done in daylight - the luxury of long summer evenings! - while the tree and the trig point were done under artificial light.

There were several interruptions, and I took photographs at each of these, which is why the in-progress sequence is so long.

I quite like the way that the tree seems to "grow" in the last three images, even if the difference between numbers 4 and 5 is due to a mistake on my part.

Burrough Hill is a hill fort in Leicestershire, near my childhood home. In fact, the boards on site claim that it is the finest hill fort in Leicestershire, and this I can well believe, because it is, indeed, a very fine fort.

Returning to it after a period of more or less two decades, I was surprised how different it seems to the hill forts in the south of England. The southern counties are dominated by the glorious chalk downland; this midland fort is built with local ironstone. Knowing this, it shouldn't be a surprise to see how much better Burrough Hill has weathered the centuries than, say, Uffington Castle.

But, as it happens, I didn't know this. I thought the local stone was sandstone (the exposed stones at Burrough Hill certainly look like sandstone, and I'm pretty sure that sandstone underlies much of the area).

One thing I did know, though: those ramparts are great fun to run up and down when you're a child. My sister and I used to do just that on the many occasions that we visited the place, and my own children took great pleasure in the ups and downs when I took them there. As a grown-up, I discovered, it doesn't work so well. Perhaps it's my extra height, perhaps it's a loss of general bounciness, or maybe I'm just too old or not fit enough. I still loved walking around the top of the ramparts, though. My children didn't need to exercise much charm in order for me to promise that we would return the next time we were in the vicinity.

Rather disappointingly, the sun only came out towards the end of our visit, so most of my reference photographs suffer from grey skies and dull light. But not quite all of them; the shots that this painting were based on were taken literally as we were leaving.

Incidentally, the pale area to the lower left is a dusting of daisies and buttercups.

Oil on canvas, 40 x 20 cm
For Sale


  1. This is just lovely, Amanda. The composition is beautiful, and the rich blue in the sky just makes the painting sing.

  2. Thank you Sarah. The site is quite stunning, but difficult to condense into a single image without going super-wideframe. I felt quite fortunate to grab the pair of blue-sky shots that I based this painting on.


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