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Medieval Graffiti

An example of graffiti from the gateway at St. Cross, Winchester.

  • The study of medieval graffiti inscriptions in English churches is experiencing a resurgence.

  • Large scale, systematic surveys of these remarkable but sometimes enigmatic traces of medieval society are taking place on a regional basis throughout the country, inspired by the success of pioneering projects in Norfolk and Suffolk.

  • HFC Historic Buildings Section is co-ordinating a similar, volunteer-led and run survey in Hampshire.

  • Some other examples of graffiti can be seen in our photo gallery.

Grafitti Surveys

There is a wealth of material in Hampshire churches awaiting further research, including:

  • religious imagery, many examples of protective or apotropaic symbols, often in the form of concentric circles and daisy wheels; see the St Cross image above
  • text inscriptions
  • images of people
Bringing this corpus of material together will provide an invaluable resource for further study and understanding of the medieval world.



For more background to this subject there is information online to research the topic.

Newsletter Articles

Training taking place at Romsey Abbey.

  • The survey was launched on 14th May 2016 when  Matt Champion, Director of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey and author of Medieval Graffiti: the lost voices of England’s churches, led a hands-on training session for volunteers wishing to take part in the survey. This was held at King John’s House, Romsey, where stunning medieval graffiti in a domestic context can be seen.

  • A further training session, led by LTVAS members who are carrying out a survey of Romsey Abbey, was held on 16th June 2016; see left.

  • Small groups are now being set up to survey the churches in their area, but more volunteers are welcome.

Studying examples of Graffiti at Romsey Abbey.

Getting Involved

If you would like to get involved or want to know more about the project then email Karen Wardley. For volunteers:
  • No previous experience is needed, just enthusiasm and willingness to give some time to explore this fascinating topic.

  • Training can be provided.

  • Download the pdf of the Volunteer Handbook, which includes copies of the 1) Photo Record Sheet, 2) Site Record Sheet and 3) Graffiti Types Sheet, for guidance on the recording process.
Results of the Hampshire survey will be posted on this website. To begin, a Facebook page has been set up for both volunteers and those interested in the results.

Reporting graffiti: If you are not able to volunteer but know of a church or churches in your area with examples of graffiti, please email.