Tag Archives: King Arthur

Follow The Bear

23 Mar

I circled Arthur’s Stone yesterday, making three drawings of this Neolithic monument. Although the popular English name links it to King Arthur (its Welsh name is Maen Ceti), it is far older than the Arthurian legend, which was written down in the 12th Century C.E. It is thought that the story of Arthur might refer to a warrior king or leader around the 6th Century C.E. when the Britons were fighting the invading Saxons. Either way, the monument is ancient, around 4,500 years and counting.

Arthurs Stone

Arthurs Stone

I did a sparse drawing, trying to tap into the feelings the place inspired in me rather than slavishly copying what was in front of my eyes. I had prepared the paper with washes of my home-made walnut ink and I wanted to keep a lot of it intact – the surface of the ink is thick and satiny, it holds the shapes traced by the brushstrokes beautifully and I didn’t want to lose too much of that because it adds a lushness to the work. Here’s a previous blog on how to make walnut husk ink here.

There’s a theory that the name Arthur comes from the ancient British word ‘arto’ meaning bear (‘arth’ in Welsh) and ‘ursa’, the Latin for bear. The battles between the Britons and Saxons happened in the century or two after the Roman withdrawal from Britain and a mixture of the British and Latin would have been very possible at that time.

The Pebble In Arthur’s Boot

22 Mar
Arthur's Stone, Cefn Bryn

Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn

Today we visited Arthur’s Stone at Cefn Bryn on the Gower Peninsular, a Neolithic tomb about four and a half thousand years old. It’s a very popular destination for primary school day trips in this area and there is always a steady stream of visitors as it’s quite accessible from the road. Legend has it that King Arthur stopped across the estuary and removed a stone from his boot, throwing it right across the river where it landed in its present position and grew to a mighty size. In the late seventeenth century, a large chunk of over 10 tons fell off and still lies where it fell.

I’m still using up the recycled Fabriano Accademica paper that I had previously drawn on with my home-made walnut ink, ripping it into drawing-board sized pieces and drawing with carbon and white conte crayon. I’m keeping the drawing very simple, I don’t want to get into representational detail, I’m trying to get a feeling from the places I’m visiting and putting that down on paper, if that makes sense?

Arthur’s Table

29 Feb

capstone 1 a

Up a mountain (Mynydd Llangynderyn), over a ridge, through a bog to a pair of small sub-megalithic burial chambers next to each other under a rocky outcrop. Together the pair is known as Bwrdd Arthur (Arthur’s Table). This is the western burial chamber, called Gwal y Filiast (Kennel of the Greyhound Bitch), which is the same name as several other ancient stones across South Wales and reflects the high esteem in which greyhounds were held for their hunting prowess.  I drew with carbon and willow charcoal onto a piece of Fabriano Accademica paper that I had previously marbled with black oil paint.

capstone 1 b

We’ve been getting better weather lately but the months of rain has left the ground sodden and cold, although these few days of sunshine have been great for getting out and doing some drawing.

I’m travelling around with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book. His previous book on the standing stones of Ancient Siluria can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about the process. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. If you want to see more of my artworks, please click here.

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