Graffiti, but not as we know it

Post mill and octogram graffiti on Belton's Grade 1 Listed Stables, Lincolnshire.

It’s easy to dismiss graffiti as destructive, anti-social or even vandalism, but this is a relatively modern view, and historians are now beginning to realise it offers a valuable window on the past.

Belton’s research group have captured a fascinating collection of dates, numbers and images scratched in the stonework of the stables using digital photography.

Many of these early inscriptions are ‘apotropaic’, which is thought to have symbolised protection both for the creator and the place.

Double V (VV) graffiti
Double V (VV) graffiti on Belton's Grade 1 Listed Stables, Lincolnshire
Double V (VV) graffiti

There are three main apotropaic motifs found at Belton, compass-drawn, pentangle and the VV symbol. The stables show all three, not surprising perhaps when considering the value of the horses kept there and the huge levels of responsibility placed on the grooms to keep them fit and healthy.

JT 1811 and TP 1814 square cartouche graffiti
Square cartouche graffiti at Belton House, Lincolnshire
JT 1811 and TP 1814 square cartouche graffiti