From war to ‘witch marks’: graffiti carved into New Forest trees reveals past lives

Project includes inscriptions dating back hundreds of years spotted by members of the public

Some are fading records of passionate woodland trysts, while others tell vividly of the fear of the supernatural that some still feel in the forest: they are the more than 100 pieces of graffiti carved into trees in the New Forest in the south of England that have been spotted by members of the public and collected by the national park authority.

There are, not surprisingly, plenty of lovers’ initials but also “witch marks”, etched into bark to try to ward off people suspected of evil intent and examples of the “king’s mark”, which was used to identify trees chosen to be chopped down to make warships.

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