Post-Medieval ship graffiti on the north coast of Ireland

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The generation of boat and ship imagery in the form of graffiti has long precedents internationally. Such imagery carries with it a range of context-dependant associations and meanings. This paper presents a collection of previously undescribed graffiti from the north coast of Ireland which demonstrates features and behaviours which parallel those witnessed in a wide range of chronological situations elsewhere, while retaining context-specific resonances. The twelve graffiti depict a variety of 18-19th-century sailing craft and one anchor. In addition, a series of names or initials provide a sense not only of authorship and identification with maritime communities but also the performative and thereby provocative nature of graffiti. This paper argues that the wider socio-economic changes taking place within these coastal communities provides a basis for understanding the resonance of such imagery across this period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-268
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Maritime Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Michael Cecil and Douglas Cecil on Rathlin; and Robert Corbett, Reverend Patrick Barton, Maurice McHenry, and Conor Forsythe at Ballintoy. Also Rosemary McConkey, Kieran Westley and Sandra Henry in the Centre for Maritime Archaeology. Thanks to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for their continued support, in particular Tony Corey.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Ship graffiti
  • post-medieval
  • Boats
  • Ireland
  • Post-medieval


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