Victorian roof 'graffiti' found at Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Image caption,
The museum has decided not to paint over the grafitti

A team carrying out repairs on the Victorian roof of an Oxford museum have discovered 150-year-old "graffiti".

Painted 15m (49ft) high up in the rafters of The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is the message: "This roof was painted by G. Thicke and J Randall, April 1864."

The museum's education officer Rachel Parle said: "This was graffiti, this was not a sanctioned thing."

The Grade I-listed building is closed to allow the roof to be repaired.

It has let in water intermittently since the building was built in 1860, staff said.

'Not offended'

Ms Parle said: "We wouldn't have known this great discovery was there if we hadn't built scaffolding so high it dwarfs our T-Rex exhibit.

"We're not offended by the graffiti, and we're not painting over it, but the owners of the museum may have felt very differently about it at the time if they had known.

"This isn't the mark of a company but of just two decorators, and the date on it is four years after the museum opening which makes you wonder how on Earth they were all the way up there painting that when it was being used as a museum at the time."

The museum contains exhibits of some the first dinosaurs discovered, and the preserved remains of a dodo.

Its repairs are set to conclude in February 2014.

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