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Human Figures

A common feature of early graffiti inscriptions is the number of full length figure and faces that are recorded. Many of the figures, such as those from Troston, show clear medieval figures with hands raised in attitudes of prayer, and are clearly devotional in nature. Others, such as the full length medieval female figure on the chancel arch at Swannington, are more ambiguous in nature. Many of the faces also appear stylised to the point of caricature, and it is difficult to suggest that they have any devotional aspects. A few examples might certainly show more secular activities.

At Marsham there is a small and crudely executed scene at the base of one of the piers that shows two figures. The first, shown with sword and shield, is clearly meant to be a knight or soldier of some sort. The opposite figure appears to be a beast or dragon of some sort. However, close inspection reveals that the dragon figure appears, instead of feet, to show a fringe of some sort. Such fringes were commonly seen on medieval players costumes, such as the Norwich ‘Snap-dragons’, and were designed to hide the feet of the individual inside the costume. It may well be then that the Marsham scene, rather than depicting a battle between a knight and dragon, actually shows a scene from a medieval mummers play. Perhaps a play enacted in the very same church.