Exploring the medieval graffiti of North Herts' historic churches
- Credit: Archant
North Herts has a rich history of medieval churches - dating as far back as the 12th century.
St Mary's Church in Ashwell was built in 1381, and features medieval graffiti showing St Paul's Cathedral and highlighting the plight of victims of the Black Death.
Meanwhile in Letchworth, the Church of St Mary - which was built in the late 12th century - features graffiti of a medieval ship.
Medieval churches were painted inside, so graffiti was scratched onto painted walls which made it stand out. Church authorities seem to have approved of the graffiti - which often had a religious theme, with crosses a common feature.
After the reformation, the insides were usually whitewashed to cover up earlier decoration, in particular depictions of heaven and hell. From that point onwards graffiti was usually not religious, and people would carve their initials, dates and other pictures or messages.