Volume III: York and East Yorkshire
Select a site alphabetically from the choices shown in the box below. Alternatively, browse sculptural examples using the Forward/Back buttons.
Current Display: Aldbrough 01, Eastern Yorkshire Forward button Back button

National Grid Reference of Place of Discovery
Present Location
Above south face of south nave arcade, high up
Evidence for Discovery
First recorded in 1782, within fabric of church (Brooke 1782)
Church Dedication
St Bartholomew
Present Condition
Chipped on edges of dial, but generally sound

The circular sundial is part of a large rectangular block of stone (Taylor and Taylor 1965, i, 21), from which it projects c. 5 cm. The dial has a plain outer moulding round the perimeter, with an inscription immediately within it. The marker lines of the dial are geometrically arranged: vertical and horizontal axes, with 45-degree diagonals. In the centre is a drilled hole. In the lower left-hand segment is a scratched pair of vertical and horizontal lines without terminals or borders. The surface is well dressed.

Inscription The inscription round the sundial is set in the strip between two clearly visible concentric incised circles roughly 2.3 cm apart. The letters are between 1.8 and 2.3 cm high. The inscription, which is in capitals, is in Old English. It reads:


This can be edited as follows:


(Translation: + ‘Ulf ordered the church to be built for himself and for Gunwaru’s soul.’)

The inscription opens with a cross. Some letters have distinct serifs. Most are slightly clumsy versions of Roman capitals. A has a bar across the top and no cross-bar. C, G, and O are round, and E is square. N is of the form in which the diagonal touches the verticals short of the ends. Both open and closed R are used. S is angular. Wynn is used in the second name. The Tironian sign for and or ond appears. There are no punctuation marks or word-dividing points.



This is the only circular sundial in the region. As there is no decorative carving, its dating must rely upon the inscription.

Inscription The placing of the inscription round the circumference of the dial is also found on the dial at Orpington, Kent (Okasha 1971, pl. 99). Ulf is evidently the name of the patron, Gunwaru probably that of his wife. There is no information about the dedication of the church. The language is Old English, but not classical Old English, as the irregular endings of cirice and saula show. The personal names Vlf and Gunwara (genitive) are Norse but with signs of Anglicization in their inflexions. The pronoun hanum seems to be the dative singular of the Old Norse third person pronoun, but is used here reflexively, contrary to Old Norse practice (Page 1971, 178–9). Ulf may perhaps have been the man mentioned in Domesday Book as owning the land in the time of King Edward the Confessor (Okasha 1971, 47, 154; Page 1971, 179).

The letter forms would not contradict the date in the eleventh century suggested by the language and names.

==John Higgitt.

Probably eleventh century

Brooke 1782; Pegge 1785; Pegge 1787, 21–2, fig.; Camden 1806, iii, 319, fig.; Poulson 1841, 5–7, 14–15, fig.; Parker 1846, 25, fig.; Rickman 1862, 101, fig.; Stephens 1866–7, xxii–xxiii, fig.; Hewitt 1874, 217; Rowe 1874, 210; Haigh 1879, 151–4, fig.; Taylor 1881, 148; Stephens 1894, 24; Gatty 1900, 56–8, fig.; Collingwood 1911a, 256–8, fig. on 256; Collingwood 1912a, 122, 131; Collingwood 1915, 288, 290; Twycross-Raines 1920, 28–30; Green 1928, 511–12; Ekwall 1930, 20; Morris 1931, 51–2; Elgee and Elgee 1933, 237; Clapham 1948a, 7; Hofmann 1955, 212–13; Zinner 1964, 31; Taylor and Taylor 1965, i, 20–1, fig.; Binns 1966, 20–1, pl.; Bradley 1968, 21; Okasha 1969, 26; Okasha 1971, 47, no. 1, pl. 1; Page 1971, 178–9; Jensen 1975, 202; Higgitt 1979, 347, 354; Lang 1989, 5, pl. IIf

Forward button Back button