Pagan Traditions: Mysteries of medieval graffiti in England’s churches
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
West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be.
In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.
Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.
"This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
The Ring Of The Nibelungs
Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (also known as Ring of the Nibelungs, Die Nibelungen, Curse of the Ring, and Sword of Xanten) is a 2004 German television film directed by Uli Edel and starring Benno Fürmann, Alicia Witt, Kristanna Loken, and Max von Sydow. The film is based on the Norse mythology story Völsungasaga and the German epic poem Nibelungenlied, ...
Google Street View Shows NAACP Bombing a Hoax
Caught in the act: NAACP passing off old soot marks as new in ‘bomb’ hoax
NAACP Colorado Chapter President Henry D. Allen Jr. has been caught in the act of passing off old soot marks as new damage from the recent ‘explosion’ at the Colorado Springs chapter headquarters.
Although Gotnews.com has previously remarked on the minimal damage as reported by the ...
|More News » |