Hunting Birds for Conisbrough Castle

In recent months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with English Heritage at Conisbrough Castle. This Norman tower, a hidden gem near Doncaster, sits at the top of a hill above the town of Conisbrough, somehow always managing to catch the sun. A few weeks ago, I tried to sketch it:

Consibrough Castle Sketch

For Easter weekend, the staff at the castle are putting on some activities for visiting families, including dressing up and tours of the keep – a chance to imagine what it was like to be a “Medieval”. In preparation for this, I’ve been asked to draw some birds of prey for colouring in.

Bird no. 1, Hawk –

Hawk Colouring

Bird no. 2, Falcon –

Falcon colouring

And, Bird no. 3 (my favourite, because it’s so fluffy, as well as being the name of the best character in the Windsinger book series), Kestrel –

Kestrel colouring

So, there you are, my colouring in birds of prey, especially for the magnificent Conisbrough Castle. Feel free to download and colour them in, I’d love to see your creations in the comments!

(Check out my instagram for the messy origins of these smoothly digitalised chirpers.)




Medieval Monsters

Around this time last year I began an MA in Medieval Literatures. Safe to say it was an incredible year, and one of the best bits was an introduction into the weird and wonderful world of medieval marginalia.

I was fascinated by the thousands of illustrations enchanting the pages of the ancient books I was reading on my course, most of which made very little sense to my modern understanding. You might have come across the mystery of snails in medieval manuscripts. At some point the consensus of our great*-grandparents seems to have been that snails were evil critters who attacked knights and sometimes rabbits for no apparent reason. The British Library have a great blog about it and some conspiracy theories of their own.

Terminator snails are not the most fearsome monster to be found in the borders of medieval books. There are also contortionist dragons, fearsome rabbits, and yoga-practicing knights, among many others. All are beautifully drawn using rich pigments and illumination – where gold leaf is applied to the picture. The Book of Kells is a great example of the finest illumination. I couldn’t resist having a go at drawing some of the images I saw, as well as trying to interpret them from a modern point of view.

A year on, I have selected my favourites of my manuscript monsters. This is what happens when you take medieval art completely out of context.

Over and out,