The Ragged Staff motif, as found in church graffiti, was once believed to be associated with the Earls of Warwick, whose livery displayed the Bear and Ragged Staff.

Due to the realisation of its broad geographical occurrence, however, and the lack of evidence for such a badge associated with any other noble family, it was realised that the staff must have had another meaning.

Examples of inscribed staffs are often found in association with known religious symbols and it is now considered likely that the staff also has a religious meaning. It is not unusual to find depictions of staffs in medieval religious imagery, the most common probably being that accompanying St Christopher. There are instances where ragged staff graffiti has been found in areas of the church which have other associations with this saint, suggesting a possible link.

There is at least one graffito of a ragged staff in Exeter Cathedral.

ragged staff