Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England's Churches

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Random House, Jul 2, 2015 - Architecture - 272 pages
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For centuries carved writings and artworks in churches lay largely unnoticed. So archaeologist Matthew Champion started a nationwide survey to gather the best examples. In this book he shines a spotlight on a forgotten world of ships, prayers for good fortune, satirical cartoons, charms, curses, windmills, word puzzles, architectural plans and heraldic designs. Drawing on examples from surviving medieval churches in England, the author gives a voice to the secret graffiti artists: from the lord of the manor and the parish priest to the people who built the church itself.

Here are strange medieval beasts, knights battling unseen dragons, ships sailing across lime-washed oceans and demons who stalk the walls. Latin prayers for the dead jostle with medieval curses, builders’ accounts and slanderous comments concerning a long-dead archdeacon. Strange and complex geometric designs, created to ward off the ‘evil eye’ and thwart the works of the devil, share church pillars with the heraldic shields of England’s medieval nobility.


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Cover About the Book
About the Author
Title Page A Note on Geography
In the beginning 2 Researching graffiti 3 Dating graffiti
ritualistic graffiti 5 Compassdrawn designs
pentangles 7 Swastikas and the Virgin witch marks 8 Crosses of faith
charms and curses 10 Voyages over stone ship graffiti 11 Men of the stones architectural inscriptions 12 The chivalric code heraldic graffiti 13 Maso...
merchants marks 15 Of knights and dragons 16 The passing of the hours Mass dials 17 Birds fish puffins and pilgrims
The music of faith
Picture Section

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About the author (2015)

Matthew Champion studied history and landscape archaeology at the University of East Anglia. As a freelance archaeologist he is widely regarded as England’s leading expert on medieval graffiti inscriptions, and has worked with organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust, as well as writing and lecturing extensively upon the subject. Matthew is currently Project Director of the multi-award winning Norfolk and Suffolk Medieval Graffiti Survey – and sometimes wonders why he doesn’t have a real job. He lives in Fakenham, Norfolk.

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