I've certainly seen hands and boats carved onto churches in Northern France (photos on request!).
Generally, they seem common in porches and many are certainly post-med (for example the Llangynog ones I mentioned are on 18th century chest tombs, as obviously was Fletcher Christian's. Whilst some may have had some kind of ritual dimension, I suspect that like modern graffiti they were an indication of bored teenagers. It would be intriguing to plot the location of period graffiti in relation to areas where teenage boys are most likely to be skulking- there is some lovely old scratched graffiti (dates/initials) on the choir stalls at Staindrop (Co Durham), which must surely be fed-up choir boys. There are also cases of merels boards and similar being carved onto church porch benches
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Matthew Champion
Sent: 13 December 2010 08:51
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [BRITARCH] Shoe-shaped graffiti
Such images of shoes/feet are relatively common phenomena within the study of medieval church graffiti. Indeed, they are often associated with depictions of other parts of the body such as hands, arms and legs. Within a church context these images have sometimes been interpreted as acting in much the same way as votive wax images of feet, hands and legs were intended to act at a medieval shrine. However, in a number of instances, such as Litcham church in Norfolk, the same shoe/foot graffiti has been interpreted as having been left by pilgrims on their way to Walsingham.
However, in the case of the Trafford Bridge graffiti, which has a definite post-medieval look to the shoes, I would be inclined to suggest that it was much more of a 'I walked here' commemoration.
From: British archaeology discussion list [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jonathan Russell
Sent: 12 December 2010 20:41
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Subject: [BRITARCH] Shoe-shaped graffiti
On the top of Trafford Bridge in Northamptonshire (SP 518 478) there are numerous shoe-shaped carvings, some with interior detail.
I have seen something similar in the porch of Chesterton Church, Warwickshire, on the surface of the stone seating there - although these are simpler, without any interior detail.
Does anyone have any knowledge of such designs?
Some images of the Trafford Bridge 'shoes' are at:
I am a non-professional, just curious about the subject.