Medieval Graffiti in the Waveney Valley

LogoI’m Andrew. I’m not an archaeologist. There, that’s got that out of the way.

Sometime around November last year I started seeing lots of posts on Twitter about starting an archaeology group in the Waveney Valley in Norfolk & Suffolk, where I live. These posts, it turned out, were Lorna’s first attempts to get the word out about community archaeology in the Valley. I was interested and we batted ideas about over the winter and into spring of this year.

On March 23rd the Waveney Valley Community Archaeology Group had its first meeting in a snowstorm in Bungay. One hundred and four people turned up. After the meeting we took a deep breath and went to the pub, where much good work has since been done.

Since that first snowy meeting one of the most popular activities we’ve been involved in has been hunting for medieval graffiti in the churches in the valley. We’ve been working with (and inspired by) Matt Champion of the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey to find, photograph and record medieval and post medieval graffiti, which brings me neatly to the 2013 Day of Archaeology.

On Friday July 26th Helen and I went for a bumble round the churches of the Hempnall group in South Norfolk, and on Saturday 27th July about 20 of our members looked over churches in Broome, Ditchingham, Hedenham and Earsham, and I guess between us from those two days we’ve got literally hundreds of pictures of graffiti from early medieval times through to the 1940s and later.
I’ve picked out some of the more unusual and quirky ones here (I was going to say off the wall ones..) to give you a flavour of what’s there to be found.

Some of them are likely very common, but based on my massive seven or eight weeks experience of medieval graffiti I still like them, so there.

JpegFritton church, a star of David, two crosses, a spear and some hatching.

JpegFritton church, a spear

JpegFritton church, two linked circles, similar to later linked circles on a tomb at Hardwick.

JpegShelton church, a possible merchant’s mark

JpegHardwick church, May 19th 1688 and four linked circles on an alabaster tomb. 1688 was the year of the Glorious Revolution, so maybe more research needed here.

JpegHardwick church, a hex mark on the head of an angel or cherub on the same tomb.

JpegDitchingham church TS 1727(?) carved by the west door. The S is back to front.

Jpeg P1000047Hedenham church Face of a bearded man

hitler1Earsham church Hitler

JpegEarsham church Sweethearts of 1953?

JpegEarsham church –  A bicycle

Louise Davies (MOLA): Managing Archaeological Projects in the City of London

I have been working in archaeology for almost 10 years now, since finishing my Masters at York University, and have been working as a Project Manager at MOLA for nearly 3 years. Today for me started very well when I realised I already had my hard hat, boots and vizi vest at home and not under my desk, so could proceed directly to my first site meeting of the day instead of coming into the office first.

I visited a site in the City of London where were have just started doing a 5-trench evaluation in the basement of a bar. It’s so cool going into these old buildings, which have often been very recently vacated – you find all sorts of weird things in them. This one still had cocktail glasses on the bar and a huge box of un-pulled Christmas crackers on the floor. I met with the MOLA Senior Archaeologist who’s doing the fieldwork and delivered a (very basic) work mobile phone to her. We are always short of site mobiles and only got a spare one for this site four days into the project. The trench she has been working on has a big Roman quarry pit in it, immediately under the concrete basement slab, which is nice and just what we expected. The second trench (in the kitchen of the old bar) is proving slightly more problematic as they keep finding drains and ground beams, and also operating a 5-ton mini excavator in a basement room is quite hot and smelly!

After the evaluation site, I walked to my next site, about ten minutes away, which is a large open area excavation. It’s the biggest project, in terms of size and value, that I have worked on, and I’m very excited to be project managing it. We started work there just over two weeks ago on a 14-week programme, and should have over 20 staff on site at the peak of the fieldwork. So far we have reduced the ground level by around 3m and found a series of post-medieval basement rooms, complete with vaulted roofs, brick floors, stone-lined drains, wine bottles, and even a graffitied brick.

Brick graffiti (c) MOLA 2013

Brick graffiti (c) MOLA 2013

We’ve got a great team down there at the moment, and they’ve been helped by our standing buildings team and brick specialist to try to date the building materials and work out the complicated phasing of the buildings. The walls seem to be a complete mish-mash of yellow stock brick, chalk blocks, red bricks, ragstone rubble, Tudor brickwork, everything.

Today I was meeting with the City of London Archaeological Advisor to show her around the site, and she’ll now make weekly visits to the site throughout the duration of the programme. We’re expecting medieval and Roman deposits beneath the post-med basement slabs, so plenty to see in the next few months. We had a special treat today when we were allowed to climb up to the top of the scaffolding to look down on the site below. A bit of a knee-trembler being so high up, but it was worth it for the view!

Holding on for dear life!

5 storeys high and cool as a cucumber (c) MOLA 2013

I then had a quick meeting with the construction manager to give him an update, and went back to work to have lunch with my lovely friend Craig, do some invoicing, and commiserate with Stewie and his motorbike-falling-off induced injuries.

Stronger Futures: An Archaeology of Contemporary Indigenous Graffiti in the Northern Territory, Australia

I am an archaeology Honours student with Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. For the last year I have been undertaking research into contemporary Indigenous graffiti in an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. I am due to submit my thesis next Monday.

I am taking time out of my research to post this blog for the Day of Archaeology. Today I have been sitting at my computer, writing about some of the issues I discuss in my thesis, so I will relay them to you here.

To begin, I just wanted to draw your attention to two recent events that are of significance to Australia and will soon find their place in Australian history:

  • Australian racehorse, Black Caviar won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Ascot; and
  • the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2012 passed through the Australian Senate with bipartisan support and is now legislation.

Black Caviar’s recent win is significant because with 22 races undefeated (including Royal Ascot), it is the current living racehorse with the most undefeated wins (and it’s Australian).

The passing of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2012 into legislation is significant because it extends the Howard government’s controversial Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (NTER) for a further ten years. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights condemned the NTER in 2010, claiming that it stigmatises already stigmatised communities.

Have a guess which of these stories featured more prominently in the Australian media?