The inscription, painted in black gothic letters, is thought to be one of the earliest written in English in any church in Britain, but it is so faded that it is unreadable.
Tim Tatton-Brown, the cathedral’s Consultant Archaeologist, said “The Cathedral’s conservators quite unexpectedly found some beautifully written English text behind the Henry Hyde Monument on the cathedral’s South Aisle wall when the monument was temporarily removed as part of the on-going schedule of work.
“I had originally surmised the text dated from the sixteenth century, bearing in mind that the monument was erected soon after 1660. However our researches now suggest it was written a century earlier and therefore pre-dates the Reformation. My colleague Dr John Crook has made a comprehensive detailed photographic record of the script and subsequently enhanced the letter forms on his computer. Study of this by specialist academics is leaning towards the text being written in the fifteenth century, a period when English was, for the very first time, being used just occasionally in preference to Latin which was then ‘the norm’.”
Tim Tatton Brown added, “So for now the basic questions of what exactly the words are and why the text was written on the cathedral wall, remain unanswered. It would be wonderful for us to solve the mystery.”
If you can offer any assistance, you can contact Salisbury Cathedral by email: firstname.lastname@example.org