What began as an idea for a small experimental survey has expanded in to a multi-award winning community archaeology project.
Two counties, one survey, over 1000 medieval churches...
“This project is remarkable and truly innovative because it embraces new types of volunteers and provides them with their first experience of archaeology, whilst also delivering fantastic research outcomes”
Dr Mike Heyworth,
Council for British Archaeology
The Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey began on a very small scale - with an idea. The study of medieval graffiti inscriptions in English churches has a long history, stretching back in to the nineteenth century, but all the work that had been done tended to be small scale and site specific. Individual churches had been looked at, but nobody had ever tried looking at the subject as a whole. The project began with a single question - just how common was medieval graffiti?
Several years later we are just beginning to answer that question - and the result of systematic survey work undertaken by hundreds of volunteers is that it is far more common than we previously believed. The survey was begun as a volunteer led community archaeology project, involving local history groups, church groups and general volunteers. Hundreds of churches have been examined, thousands of inscriptions have been recorded and tens of thousand hours have been devoted to the project.
Since these very humble beginnings the survey has achieved a number of notable successes. As well as receiving a great deal of national and international media attention, the project has won three major awards and has now worked to help establish similar surveys in many other English counties. Medieval graffiti, it would appear, will continue to fascinate for many years yet to come.