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Sedgeford's medieval graffiti

Modern graffiti ranges from the highly sought-after art of Banksy to that quoted in a Cambridge Part II Philosophy examination paper ("Crick for God" - graffito, Free School Lane - discuss) to the more basic "Shaz and Gaz woz 'ere". 

Graffiti were also common in the medieval period and many are to be found incised into the stonework of our churches - not as acts of boredom or vandalism, but having a meaning and protective influence which the modern world can only, in part, comprehend.

A significant number and variety of graffiti from the medieval period can be found in the Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sedgeford. Apart from the intricate compass-drawn design which is clearly visible inscribed into the plaster the south west wall of the nave (and is well known to all observant SHARPies), others exist on at least three columns at the west end of the nave and also on the west-facing columns in the tower.

The graffiti range from intricate compass-drawn designs of intersecting circles, angular geometric shapes, including pentangular stars  (a protective against demons in medieval times, rather than a sign associated with satanism) and a star of David. Also depicted are at least two, possibly three fish, a bird with an elaborate fanned tail, a possible boat, a small child and a man with what might be an arrow or some other pointed weapon directed towards his left eye.

Doubtless there are more and the plan is to make a detailed record during the 2018 season.

More can be found out about these fascinating windows into the medieval mind on Tuesday 10th July, when Matt Chapman - Project Director of the Norfolk and Suffolk Medieval Graffiti Survey and author of the book entitled 'Medieval Graffiti' - will present our lecture of the week at the church.

Come and see and listen and be fascinated.

John Jolleys

(Meanwhile, read a post about the church and last year's lectures at our old blog site here.)


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