Marsh Award for Community Archaeology

This Award, run in partnership with the Council for British Archaeology, is given to a community archaeology group in order to recognise and promote high quality archaeological work being carried out by the community archaeology sector to sustain and transmit knowledge and our cultural heritage to future generations.

The inaugural Award was presented at Discover Archaeology Live at Olympia on Friday 2 May 2008.

The 2013 winners are The Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey

The Norfolk Medieval Graffiti Survey (NMGS) was established to undertake the very first large scale and systematic survey of pre-reformation graffiti inscriptions in medieval churches. This is a not-for-profit community archaeology project entirely coordinated and run by volunteers.

The (NMGS) has surveyed nearly 200 churches in Norfolk, which amounts to about one third of the total number of medieval churches in the county, and has made some very important discoveries. Before the project began it was generally believed that surviving pre-reformation graffiti inscriptions were a rarity. However, the project has shown that over 80% of all medieval churches surveyed contain significant surviving examples. More than 7,500 images of individual graffiti inscriptions, masons marks and architectural designs have been generated, all of which are being entered into the project database, and will be available to the public via the project website.

The NMGS has a strong community basis, with all survey work being undertaken by trained volunteers of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds. One of the project’s biggest strengths has been its ability to recruit and train volunteers from far outside the traditional boundaries associated with community archaeology and heritage projects, reaching into socially excluded community groups.

The project has also delivered a number of public lectures to local community groups, history and archaeology groups, including the Royal Archaeological Institute, The Council for British Archaeology East Midlands and the International Medieval Congress, as well as schools and colleges. In addition, the volunteers have been working with local community groups to carry out graffiti tours of local churches and establish local graffiti survey groups.

Pictured above: Some of the graffiti which was discovered by the volunteers. Top: An inscription of a ship, a late medieval example from Norwich Cathedral. Below: A late medieval text from All Saint’s church, Litcham.


The Council for British Archaeology