Finding early textual graffiti is very exciting but often frustrating too as many examples prove difficult or even impossible to read.

In some cases the difficulties arise because the inscription is just too worn to be legible, while in others, including those in medieval Latin, the text may include contractions and abbreviations and individual letterforms may be unfamiliar or unclear.

Types of inscription found include prayers and biblical or other verses; rebuses (a word puzzle combining letters and pictures); names, sometimes with a date and probably representing a memorial; curses, which can include symbols and names written upside down or back to front; accounts of events, including catastrophes such as plague, fires and storms; records of works undertaken on the church building, and notices to the congregation, such as that there should be no talking during the service!

textual inscriptions