Sussex Mass & Scratch Dials
Scratch Dials are medieval time indicators found scratched onto surviving medieval churches.
They usually occur on vertical wall faces on the Chancel or around the south
Also referred to as Mass Dials (Mass Clocks), it being thought that their main purpose was indicating the time for celebrating the daily Mass.
These dials were gradually replaced by scientific sundials and mechanical
clocks beginning in the 16th century.
As with other heritage features, there is almost no contemporary written
evidence as to their purpose and use.
This site seeks to identify surviving examples and track their condition to encourage their protection from loss or further deterioration.
Organisation of locations is by the medieval local government areas - Rapes.
It is thought that all medieval churches would have had a version of a Scratch Dial, but 500+ years of change, restoration and 'improvements'? has reduced the number across Sussex today, to some 90 which are reviewed here - not all are visible today, but have appeared in some way in texts over the last 150 years.
Detailed statistical analysis of type, survival, grouping or whatever is avoided as so much is artificial and seemingly pointless academic posturing.
Enjoy their individuality and think of the countless people who have used or attended services prompted by their indications.
If you think you have located one not listed, please advise me. (It is not
impossible, I have identified several that had not previously appeared in the published
texts and re-discovered others, thought lost)
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.