It turns out that the Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey is now almost three years old! It began as a silly idea and, some would say, continues in the same vein. However, as another year reaches its close, and I have to shell out for yet another years web hosting, I thought it would be a good opportunity to revue exactly what we have achieved in the last three years.
Well, in terms of graffiti we haven't done too badly. We have now surveyed over 250 churches in East Anglia, a couple of cathedrals, the odd medieval undercroft - and even the odd medieval house (and some were very odd indeed). We have surveyed and recorded over 10,000 individual inscriptions - less than 100 of which were previously known - and made a number of nationally significant discoveries. We've appeared on the radio, on the telly - and even made the Daily Mail (
we aren't fussy - we'll take any coverage). We've also done the 'odd' serious bit of archaeology, and published a number of articles - some of which were actually quite well received. Oh, and we won two national awards, have given over 60 lectures and talks - as well as hosting events for Heritage Open Days and the Festival of British Archaeology. Not too bad. Not too shoddy at all.
However, despite all the great archaeology, and the great discoveries (Oh, and the Awards were very nice too!), the thing I will remember about the first three years has very little to do with medieval graffiti. What will really stay with me, I hope for the rest of my life, is the memory of the amazing people I have met during those three years. The churchwardens who care for the churches we visit, the members of the public almost, but not quite, too shy to ask why you are staring at the walls - and end up staring themselves, the vicars who enthusiastically show you the treasures of 'their own' special church. Most of all though, it is the survey volunteers. The Paul's, Colin's, Terry's and Pat's - and all the others - of this world. Those individuals who came to the project, often with no previous experience of archaeology or history, and who took it to their hearts. Who spent long hours in freezing churches, staring at the walls - and then went back and did it again the next week.
Three years later I am lucky enough to count those people as my friends. So, to all my volunteers, who now form the backbone of the surveys throughout England, this one is for you...