Medieval Graffiti

Medieval Graffiti

The Lost Voices of England's Churches


A fascinating guide to decoding the secret language of the churches of England through the medieval carved markings and personal etchings found on our church walls from archaeologist Matthew Champion.

'Rare, lovely glimmers of everyday life in the Middle Ages.' -- The Sunday Times
'A fascinating and enjoyable read' -- ***** Reader review
'Superb' -- ***** Reader review
'Riveting' -- ***** Reader review
'Compelling, moving and fascinating' -- ***** Reader review

Our churches are full of hidden messages from years gone by and for centuries these carved writings and artworks have lain largely unnoticed.

Having launched a nationwide survey to gather the best examples, archaeologist Matthew Champion shines a spotlight on a forgotten world of ships, prayers for good fortune, satirical cartoons, charms, curses, windmills, word puzzles, architectural plans and heraldic designs.

Here are strange medieval beasts, knights battling unseen dragons, ships sailing across lime-washed oceans and demons who stalk the walls. Latin prayers for the dead jostle with medieval curses, builders' accounts and slanderous comments concerning a long-dead archdeacon.

Strange and complex geometric designs, created to ward off the 'evil eye' and thwart the works of the devil, share church pillars with the heraldic shields of England's medieval nobility.

Giving a voice to the secret graffiti artists of Medieval times, this engaging, enthralling and - at times - eye-opening book, with a glossary of key terms and a county-by-county directory of key churches, will put this often overlooked period in a whole new light.


  • Rare, lovely glimmers of everyday life in the Middle Ages.
    Dan Jones, The Sunday Times

About the author

Matthew Champion

Matthew Champion studied history and landscape archaeology at the University of East Anglia. As a freelance archaeologist he is widely regarded as England’s leading expert on medieval graffiti inscriptions, and has worked with organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust, as well as writing and lecturing extensively upon the subject. Matthew is currently Project Director of the multi-award winning Norfolk and Suffolk Medieval Graffiti Survey – and sometimes wonders why he doesn’t have a real job. He lives in Fakenham, Norfolk.
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