This painting has now dropped out of The Gallery where its accompanying text read:
‘I keep returning to this subject – to number the painting number ‘5’ is a guess, probably on the low side. Silbury Hill is a remarkable structure, so large most people driving past it on the A4 5 miles west of Marlborough, Wiltshire, either don’t see it or don’t realise it is artificial; and I find very few people reply ‘yes’ when I ask if they’ve heard of it.
Archaeologically it is very well-known, part of the great complex of prehistoric monuments around Avebury largely built around 2,500 BC. We now know about its structure as a result of recent archaeological excavations and major conservation work: it was built in phases, starting as a small mound and, after not very long perhaps, reached its present proportions. Its purpose is not, however, known; it is not a burial mound. A slight ledge runs round its top; traces of a spiral path ascend its sides to the top.
Artistically, it presents a visual challenge: it just sits there in the landscape, huge but low-lying in the valley where, nearby, a spring debouches the start of the R. Kennet. What to make of it? – its profile is nothing like as steep as I have shown it here but all artists tend to exaggerate its shape and proportions because, drawn accurately to scale, it somehow does not look as impressive as it actually does from a distance. I do not know why I have added a lop-sided grid in front of it: perhaps the lines suggest the mystery that Silbury remains.
My fascination with this enigmatic structure, the largest prehistoric mound in Europe, is fuelled by the fact that I am one of the diminishing band of people who have, in 1976 and a decade ago, twice been to its centre along an archaeological tunnel which was bored through its base and not filled in 40 years ago. It is now.’