1697 and the Act of Banishment that banished all Roman Catholic priests from Ireland. The Roman Catholic church, persecuted went underground, held secret services, and communicated in secret code. Being found in possession of Catholic material could lead to death almost certain if you were of the church and holding communion. The Padley Chapel Martyrs, two Catholic Priests were hung drawn and quartered for holding a Catholic service.
Banishment in 1697 was a much a political as religious statement. Acts of defiance often took the form of secret codes and messages. The conjoined ‘V’ inverted often stood for the Virgin Mary and denoted Catholic presence. On Stanedge Pole this graffiti with the inverted ‘V’ making an ‘M’ underneath the date 1697 could possibly have been an act of defiance against the Church of England and the Crown.
Dangerous things to be doing and a painful death if found.