At many heritage sites, from cathedrals to castles, one of the most obvious types of graffiti that you are likely to come across are those created by earlier visitors to the site. What stands out is just how many of these inscriptions date to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and in many cases just how neatly and precisely they have been carved. At many churches you will often find these inscriptions dismissed as the work of choirboys, or ‘naughty schoolboys’. However, in most cases, that simply couldn’t be further from the truth.
Until very recent times the creation of graffiti on ancient buildings wasn’t regarded as vandalism, or something that was even frowned upon. Graffiti was created by all levels of society, wishing to leave a mark of their visit, and many of our most notable ancient monuments, from the royal thrones in Westminster Abbey, to the Pyramids in Egypt, are literally covered in graffiti inscriptions. It is also clear, where research has been undertaken, that the people who made these inscriptions were often of relatively high social status -
Whilst some people may frown at the way these inscriptions deface many ancient sites, it must be remembered that they too are telling a story; the story of how these sites first became tourist attractions…
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