Saturday, 27 March 2010

Wild Signs: graffiti in archaeology and history

image: 17th- and 18th-century graffiti scratched into the limestone of Tewkesbury Abbey

Wild Signs: Grafitti in Archaeology and History - the latest (sixth) volume in the series ‘Studies in Contemporary and Historical Archaeology’, which I co-edit with Josh Pollard - is now published. Edited by Jeff Oliver (Aberdeen) and Tim Neal (Sheffield), the book brings together a series of studies in the historical archaeology of wall art, graffiti and tree carvings.

BAR S2074 2010: Studies in Contemporary and Historical Archaeology 6 'Wild Signs: Graffiti in Archaeology and History' edited by Jeff Oliver and Tim Neal. ISBN 9781407306353. £30.00. v+103 pages; illustrated throughout with maps, plans, figures, drawings and photographs.

The book can be ordered through Hadrian Books or Archaeopress, as well as through Amazon, etc.

1. Wild Signs: An Introduction (Jeff Oliver and Tim Neal)
2. Basque Aspen Carvings: The Biggest Little Secret of Western USA (Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe)
3. Elbow Grease and Time to Spare: The Place of Tree Carving (Jeff Oliver and Tim Neal)
4. Magic Markers: The Evocative Potential of Carvings on Stanton Moor Edge, Derbyshire, UK (Stella McGuire)
5. Traces of Presence and Pleading: Approaches to the Study of Graffiti at Tewkesbury Abbey (Kirsty Owen)
6. Signs of the Times: Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Graffiti in the Farms of the Yorkshire Wolds (Kate Giles and Mel Giles)
7. ‘What the Frak is F***?’ A Thematic Reading of the Graffiti of Bristol (Travis G. Parno)
8. ‘Theo Loves Doris’: Wild-Signs in Landscape and Heritage Context (John Schofield)
9. Painting The River’s Margins (Tiago Matos Silva)
10. In London You’re Never More Than 10 Feet from a Rat (Stencil): The Rat and Urban Folklore (Paul Cowdell)
11. Afterword (Victor Buchli).

Series Editors' Preface

Studies in Contemporary and Historical Archaeology is a new series of edited and single-authored volumes intended to make available current work on the archaeology of the recent and contemporary past. The series brings together contributions from academic historical archaeologists, professional archaeologists and practitioners from cognate disciplines who are engaged with archaeological material and practices. The series will include work from traditions of historical and contemporary archaeology, and material culture studies, from Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere around the world. It will promote innovative and creative approaches to later historical archaeology, showcasing this increasingly vibrant and global field through extended and theoretically engaged case studies.

Proposals are invited from emerging and established scholars interested in publishing in or editing for the series. Further details are available from the series editors: Email or

This, the sixth volume in the series, assembles a series of innovative studies in the historical archaeology of graffiti. A rich variety of case studies that range from figures carved into the bark of aspen trees in upland Nevada made during the 1910s to stencilled rats on the streets of 21st-century Bristol, and from ships scratched into the limestone of Tewkesbury Cathedral to aircraft drawn on the walls of farm buildings by horselads in the Yorkshire Wolds during the early 20th century. Through these case studies, the editors clearly demonstrate the potential contribution of such sites to wider archaeological debates around the study of art and landscape: looking at the effects of artworks, rather than simply trying to interpret their meaning. This response to the ‘wildness’ of graffiti is contextualised in Victor Buchli’s afterword, which demonstrates the volume’s broader contribution to fields of material culture studies and the archaeology of the recent past.

Dan Hicks (University of Oxford) and Joshua Pollard (University of Bristol)


Victor Buchli (Reader, Department of Anthropology, UCL)

Paul Cowdell (Ph.D. candidate, Social Science Arts and Humanities Research Institute, University of Hertfordshire)

Kate Giles (Lecturer in Archaeology, University of York)

Mel Giles (Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Manchester)

Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe (Independent researcher (retired), Reno, Nevada, USA)

Stella McGuire (Freelance archaeologist, Hathersage, Derbyshire)

Tim Neal (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield)

Jeff Oliver (Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Aberdeen)

Kirsty Owen (Historic Scotland)

Travis Parno (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Archaeology, Boston University)

John Schofield (English Heritage)

Tiago Silva (Graffiti artist, Lisbon)

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