These marks on The Commandery’s building timbers are called apotropaic marks. They are evil-averting, often called ‘witch marks’, which were used to protect a building from evil spirits, witches and their animal familiars. These marks are primarily found around doorways, fireplaces and windows and it has been suggested that they were made by the carpenters as part of a ritual when constructing the building.
The Commandery also contains a curious mark in the shape of VV on its side behind the Minstrels Gallery. This is apparently one of the most common inscriptions in timber framed buildings of this age with many churches also containing this symbol. They have been associated with the cult of the Virgin Mary with the ‘V V’ being regarded as the initial letters of the Latin phrase ‘Virgo Virginum’ meaning Virgin of Virgins.
Kerry Whitehouse, Interpretation Assistant, The Commandery