North Wiltshire YAC go on a medieval graffiti hunt
On Saturday 19th March 2016, North Wiltshire Young Archaeologists' Club visited the medieval church of Liddington. Member Ryan Haynes explains more...
Liddington is a small village and civil parish (a small district having its own church and priest) which is south-east of Swindon. The first recording of this village was in AD 940 and it then appears in the Domesday Book in 1086, referred to as Ledentone. However, the church was first recorded in 1291 when valued for the taxation of Pope Nicholas.
When we arrived, we were split up into groups to check different parts of church for signs of medieval graffiti. There are many different types of graffiti popular from the Middle Ages. Many of these were visible throughout the church. These include, compass-drawn designs, VV crosses and human figures. Many were created by masons teaching their apprentices about geometry. Others were believed to keep the devil out by trapping demons.
As all of the graffiti was hundreds of years old we had to look very carefully for the inscriptions. Sometimes it was obvious, but some of the graffiti was really faint. We were given a flashlight, a clipboard, a ruler and a camera. Working in pairs, we used the torch to reveal the graffiti. Shining the torch at a certain angle gave a better view of the inscriptions.
When we found the graffiti we thought was special, we used the camera to take a photo of the graffiti. It was important to include a ruler in our photos to indicate how big the inscription was. We used a reference sheet to check what the image number was for the type of graffiti we had found, and marked this down on a survey sheet.
What we found...
In this picture (in the centre) you can see a box with what we can assume is initials of the carver, T T, with the date, 1777, underneath. There is also a VV shape. This stands for Virgo Virginum (Virgin of Virgins) referencing the Virgin Mary.
There are more pictures of the graffiti that we found in the photo gallery at the bottom of the page.
Thank you to Tony Hack and the Wiltshire Medieval Graffiti Recording Project who introduced us to the church and showed us what to do, and to the parishioners at All Saints’ who welcomed us.
Blog by Ryan Haynes, North Wiltshire YAC member