GRADE I † Saxon origins; DB as Aelfsige. Dedication unknown. Dated to C14 (BLB notes C13 chancel & porch). C19 restoration. Incumbents recorded from 1353. In a most attractive setting down a long path, and grouped with a large medieval tithe barn, dovecote &co. 8m E of Lewes, 6m W of Polegate. 50.8299 / 0.1369 / TQ505055
All 4 dials are cut on either side of the blocked S doorway of the nave. 1 LHS and 3 RHS, of which an adjacent pair are low down, almost at ground level.
On the L jamb of the blocked doorway, the most advanced and clearest of the 4 dials. Mid-C15? Encircled, with a full cross of vertical (12-12) and horizontal (6-6) lines emphasised by deeper incision. The lower half has 6 additional lines (and hints of a couple more). A single line UR quadrant divides it fairly accurately. The gnomon hole is (now) rather large for the size of the dial but that may have happened in the course of its history.
RHS of the doorway, the same height as Dial 1. A much simpler dial with 2 lines only. The worn circle contains just 2 lines LLQ, one faint and the other deeper cut. Possibly the faint line was originally the marker for Mass, and was superseded by a more visible line (hand-cut without a rule, it would seem).
Alciston Church . E Sussex – Scratch Dial 2
DIALS 3 & 4
Just above ground level are 2 enjoyable dials on the same stone, presumably re-sited from a more visible position. However the stone sits comfortably with the overall design of the doorway, so I wonder whether all the dials (or those RHS) were moved to their present position when the doorway was blocked / during restoration?
The dials are adjacent – in fact, contiguous. Both circles are endearingly wonky, though the lines are cleanly cut. Dial 3 has been more carefully incised, with some attention paid to accuracy. Dial 4 probably came first and the more sophisticated Dial 3 later replaced it.
Dial 3 has 2 small dotted crosses within its circumference, also suggesting a later date than Dial 4. One cross consists of 4 separate dots; the other has the dots connected by lines (the vertical is very faint).
Alciston Church . E Sussex – Scratch Dial 3 & 4
DIALS 2, 3, and 4 as a group
Alciston is one of several rewarding churches in the area for a visit. You could combine it with climbing Firle Beacon which, at a height of 217m, counts as a Marilyn.
Frederick Barrett – Sussex Archaeological Collections 100 1962
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial; Dotted Cross graffiti
Photos: Keith Salvesen except as shown; Church Information appreciated
2 thoughts on “ALCISTON CHURCH . W SUSSEX . NO DEDICATION – 4 Scratch Dials”
you asked about the St. Margaret of Antioch sundial at Cley next the Sea. I found it just by chance when Hanne-Dina was photographing the inside of our church for a guide. The slab with the dial is used as a floor tile. The square tile with the numbers is part of the flooring under two chairs on the right-hand side in front of the altar.
We are going to Yorkshire now for two or three weeks. If you want a picture of it that has to wait until we are back.
All the best
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That is a wonderful find! I haven’t had time to check thoroughly, but I haven’t found a ref to it at the moment. Perhaps you are the first people to spot it! I would really love any photos when you get back. Have a lovely time in Yorkshire. All the best, Keith
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