YOU find them in old buildings, hidden in the rafters of rural cottages and barns, above fireplaces, etched on window sills or scratched into old furniture - they are sometimes referred to as 'witch marks.'

Apotropaic marks, a kind of ancient graffiti, were designed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

Unlike graffiti, the marks had a distinct meaning and ritualistic purpose, and speak of a time when superstition played an important part in every day life.

A talk on the symbols, which include strange candle flame shaped burns, circles with petals, 'daisy wheels,' patterns of interconnected circles, and V or M marks, thought to be a form off Ogham writing, though others have mooted stand for the Virgin Mary, was held at Plas Penmynydd, on Anglesey, on Saturday.

The famous medieval house, on the site of a much older house, is famously known for its links to the Tudor dynasty.

Saturday's talk, included tours of Plas Penmynydd and was organised by the Discovering Old Welsh Houses group. Its chairman and Plas Penmynydd owner of 40 years Richard Cuthbertson talked about the house and its history whilst Eleanor Carpenter, a senior planning and conservation officer, for Flintshire County Council discussed witch and carpenter marks. The 50 visitor who dropped by were invited to hunt out the marks in he house.

Now, Eleanor and the group are appealing for readers to take part in their own search.

"We are hoping to try and study the extent of these marks, in houses and barns." She said.

"People often don't realise they have them because they were a secret, often placed in hidden places, high in rafters or in the back of fireplaces.

"We'd love people to search their old houses and barns and contact us if they have any marks so we can map them.

"It was an early tradition which carried on into quite recent times. It give us insight into the social and cultural aspect of the lives of people and their ritual customs. The meanings were not written down. We don't fully understand what all the symbolism means, but we think they have their root in ritual protection."

Inside Plas Penmynydd are some fine examples of the marks, many on carved into early oak furniture. The outside of the house, also has many unusual features including Latin inscriptions, coats of arms, and a window sill with a string of mysterious symbols, next to an upside down date reading 1547

There are six branches of the Discovering Old Houses group covering Anglesey, Snowdonia, Gwynedd, Conwy and South Denbighshire. They research houses built before 1700 AD. New members are welcome.

The Anglesey branch is holding a talk at 2pm, in Beaumaris Church, on the Bulkeley family by the Reverend Neil Fairlamb, on October Friday 26. All welcome.

Anyone who has information re witch marks or for more information about the group and talks please contact Margaert Dunn secretary@discovering