Apotropaic marks

The surfaces of old buildings are typically the carriers of many marks — of time, use and decorative intention, amongst other things. In the outbuildings of this 17th-century farmhouse in Oxfordshire there are also the scratchings of various hands across the centuries, from casual graffiti and purposeful grain tallies to this circle inscribed with a daisy wheel, cut into the stone to the side of a barn door. The latter symbol is apotropaic, meaning that it was supposed to have the power to ward off malevolent spirits.


John Pawson