Ritual Protection Marks & Apotropaic Graffiti in the London Churches

The Medieval buildings in the London Boroughs were ravaged by the Great Fire and assailed by the Blitz. They have suffered modern development, demolition, restoration and numerous re-building projects.

You would be right to suspect that little remains of the Medieval fabric of London ….

And yet, and yet…many mysterious symbols can still be found on the ancient masonry which attests to the beliefs and fears of the city’s medieval populace. Apotropaics* and ‘ritual protection marks’ in the form of protective compass-drawn circles and ciphers inscribed to invoke the Virgin have survived.

Close examination of St Bartholomew the Great, Westminster Hall, Westminster Abbey – and now, recently, the Inner Temple church – have all given up their secrets to reveal a ‘secret history’ of the capital…

*Apotropaic = from the Greek, apotropaios –

‘having the power to turn away evil influences or bad luck’


Wayne Perkins has been an archaeologist for over 22 years, seven of those spent excavating in France. He is a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

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