Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
2014 07 30
By Neil Heath | BBC
Medieval graffiti of straw kings, pentagrams, crosses, ships and "demon traps" have been offering a tantalising glimpse into England’s past. What do the pictures reveal about life in the Middle Ages?
A project to record the graffiti, which began in Norfolk, has now been rolled out to other areas and is gradually spreading across England.
Armed with just a torch and a camera, a team of volunteers have recorded more than 28,000 images from churches in Norfolk alone and are a third of the way through searching Norwich Cathedral, where there are many more examples.
Although the drawings discovered so far undoubtedly offer an insight into the minds of some - possibly bored - churchgoers in the Middle Ages, their precise meaning is not always clear.
For instance, on the walls near the entrance to Cranwell Parish Church, in Lincolnshire, there is a figure identified as "the straw man".
Brian Porter, Lincolnshire’s medieval graffiti project co-ordinator, believes the figure to be a pagan fertility symbol, possibly etched before a May Day celebration.
The "straw king" (left) was possibly a pagan fertility symbol while medieval graffiti artists also made use of other figures (right)
In pre-Christian tradition the "straw man" was made out of the previous year’s crop and then eventually burned, with the ashes scattered across the fields.
Mr Porter said he believed the church "couldn’t stamp out" the Pagan traditions of parishioners and probably grew tired of rubbing the graffiti away.
It raises a tantalising prospect. Could it be that beneath the Christian veneer, an older tradition was still being actively pursued, perhaps in a deliberately subversive way?
Matt Champion, a medieval archaeologist who began the project in Norfolk in 2010, says there are a variety of different theories and care is needed when interpreting the drawings.
"Brian could be right," he says.
"But we have different perspectives. To be honest, I’ve yet to come across a genuine pagan symbol. Not all [Christians at the time] were closet pagans."
Mr Champion said he was surprised by how much graffiti had been found so far and the way in which the project had caught the public imagination.
Churches are being searched by volunteers in Suffolk, Kent, East Sussex, Surrey and Lincolnshire and the scheme is set to move into Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in the near future.
"[Medieval graffiti] was believed to be rare - turns out it’s not," he says.
"It’s a fairly new area of archaeology and it’s like discovering a medieval library buried in your back garden."
Mr Champion said the medieval church was incredibly superstitious.
"They believed evil floated around you and demons were waiting to latch on to your soul," he says. "The evil eye was something real."
He explained that some circles could have been drawn to act as "demon traps".
Read the full article at: bbc.com
Archaeologists unearth ‘unparalleled’ pre-Christian temple in Norway
Is IMF Chief Christine Lagarde delivering an occult message in this speech?
Easter - Christian or Pagan?
Mummy Found With Christian Tattoo Of Archangel Michael On Inner Thigh
Pagan revival - Danish Asatru documentary
Pagans in South Africa Defy Religious Discrimination
Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology
Discovery of Hammer of Thor artifact solves mystery of Viking amulets
America’s Stonehenge May Be 4,000 Years Old—Did Celts Build It?
Ancient Celtic Geo-Wizards Plotted Real ’Middle Earth’
Boy etches graffiti into Egyptian Temple of Luxor: Sparks Outrage
Symbols, and the "Graffiti Code Breaker"
Latest News from our Front Page
Björn Söder, Swedish Jews, and Multiculturalism
Of all the accusations commonly leveled against a Jews as a group, perhaps the one they find most frightening is the accusation that they are disloyal, or aren’t ‘quite’ like the rest of us. Arguably, a large part of the Jewish evolutionary strategy consists of maintaining a pose, or pretence, to be fully in and of the nation and its ...
'Spectre' Is Doomed: Did North Korea Kill James Bond? No, but Political Correctness will
Comment: Below is an interesting article from Forbes on the fate of the Bond franchise. They asks: 'Spectre' Is Doomed: Did North Korea Kill James Bond?
North Korea probably wasn't behind the Sony hack, China also chimed in. Looks more like a False Flag Hack. North Korea is a lot of things, but behind the Sony attack? Probably not. They have ...
NYPD officer slayings: When the Left's False Narratives Have Deadly Consequences
On Saturday afternoon, Black Brooklynite Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed two NYPD police officers and shot them both to death while they were sitting in their patrol car. According to early reports, there was “no warning” and “no provocation.” Brinsley simply approached the vehicle and “unloaded” on the two officers sitting inside. Hours before the assassination, he had announced his intent ...
Saudi oil chief: No conspiracy behind oil prices
Nothing to see here or here
Saudi Arabia's oil chief on Sunday dismissed allegations that his kingdom conspired to bring down oil prices in order to harm other countries and told a summit of Arab energy leaders that he was confident the market would stabilize.
The kingdom, which is dependent on oil revenues, is able to weather lower oil prices due to ...
North Korea's internet is having serious problems
North Korea is having serious connectivity issues this morning, North Korea Tech reports. The country has extremely limited web infrastructure to begin with, but reports from Dyn indicate the country's infrastructure has suffered a series of major outages over the past 24 hours. As a result, anyone at a North Korean IP would have found it nearly impossible to connect ...
|More News » |