The SAS Graffiti Team
A group from SAS are investigating and recording historical graffiti in churches and other ancient buildings in Southampton and its surrounding area. Modern graffiti receives a bad press but in the medieval period it seems to have been an acceptable way for people to express their beliefs and hopes in a tangible and lasting form. Later, as literacy increased, it was also a way of recording one’s presence, with initials and dates.
The Southampton group was formed in 2017 and has already surveyed a number of churches including St Julien’s Chapel, South Stoneham, Peartree and Eling. Findings have included a number of elaborate crosses, and ritual protection marks such as concentric circles and “daisy wheels”. More recent graffiti made by parishioners inscribing their names has also been recorded, providing a valuable source of information for local history and family researchers. Gods House Tower, prior to its refurbishment, and the attics at Tudor House, have also been surveyed.
Survey findings are published in the Society’s Newsletter, and summaries are sent to the local Historic Environment Record held by the relevant council Planning Department.
The group’s work forms part of the Hampshire Medieval Graffiti Project, which in turn is part of a national volunteer-led and -run project to locate and record this fascinating body of material which until recently had been overlooked and undervalued.
More members are always welcome to join our survey team, and training will be given.
December 2018 Project Summary (individual site reports below)
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Southampton Archaeology Society