Community Archaeology Forum cba logo
Community Archaeology cba logo
The CBA's Community Archaeology Resource
Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey NMGS logo

These days the idea of scratching your name or picture into the stonework of a medieval church is regarded with horror. However, during the middle ages the congregations of many Norfolk churches obviously didn’t see it that way. The result is that Norfolk’s medieval churches are now covered with the inscriptions and graffiti created over five centuries ago.

The Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey (NMGS) began in January 2010 with the aim of carrying out the first large scale study of surviving medieval graffiti inscriptions in Norfolk churches. Although the project has so far only managed to survey about 75 of the counties 650+ medieval churches the results have been a surprise to all involved. Medieval graffiti inscriptions, once thought to be relatively rare within the regions churches, are now seen to have been commonplace – and what they depict has amazed and fascinated both church visitors and experts alike.
NMGS volunteers working at Litcham
The project is an entirely volunteer led community archaeology project that works closely with both the church authorities and historians to uncover some truly spectacular finds. The projects most spectacular discovery, to date, was made a few miles from the North Norfolk coast at the impressive remains of Binham Priory. Whilst carrying out a graffiti survey in the nave of the church the project director uncovered a series of architectural graffiti inscriptions that appear to be the original master-masons drawings for the elaborate West Front of the Priory. Although investigations are due to continue at Binham over the coming months the discovery has already been described as ‘remarkable’ and ‘very significant’ and has featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Making History’ programme.
Troston St Mary
The project will be recruiting and training volunteers to carry out much of the survey work and hopes that people of all ages will come forward to offer their time. “This is the first project of its type to take place anywhere in England”, stated Matthew Champion, “and we are already re-writing the reference books. Our volunteers are trained and supported throughout the project and have already made some quite spectacular, and nationally important, discoveries”.

To learn more about the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey please visit the project website:-
Wiveton Ship Litcham All Saints Martyn



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