Graffiti crosses can vary from elaborate and deeply incised examples, which clearly took some time and care to make, to mere scratches on the surface.
Results from East Anglia suggest that almost 80% of cross inscriptions are found around the entrance doorway and most usually, if there is one, in the porch. (Interestingly this does not seem to be the case in Devon, so far). Often they appear in clusters or in small groups.
Traditionally, crosses were thought to have been created by people leaving to go on a pilgrimage, or as thanksgiving for a safe return. There appears, however, to be little evidence for such an interpretation and it has been suggested that crosses within a porch may rather be related to activities that took place there, many of which included the making or taking of vows. In the middle ages the porch, or area at the church door, was important for both religious and social functions. These included the marriage ceremony, burial service and the churching of women after childbirth. The porch also functioned as a parish office, where contracts were drawn up and witnessed.
The most frequently found upright cross is the simple ‘Calvary’ or Latin type, although others, with more than one crossbar, are also seen. The saltire or diagonal cross (as in the Cross of St Andrew), seems to be quite common, although this is generally associated with an apotropaic function. Interestingly, the saltire cross forms part of a traditional design on iron door/window latches and locks, possibly due to its perceived protective qualities.