ST PETER & ST PAUL . NORTH CURRY . SOMERSET GRADE I † Norman origin, gradually growing from c1300 to a substantial building for a village. C19 further expansion and rebuilding. Mostly local sandstone, some… More
ST MARY THE VIRGIN . PRESTON CANDOVER . HANTS
GRADE II † C12 origins (c1190), mostly destroyed by a fire in 1681 and rebuilt. Dilapidation and a new Parish church built in the village centre in 1883 led to demolition of all but the Chancel. In the 1920s used as a mortuary chapel. Stones mark the outline of part of the nave. In the care of CCT. 8m S of Basingstoke. 51.1687 / -1.138 / SU603414
Both dials are on the south wall of the Chancel, L of the blocked Priest’s door.
Dial 1 is small and, remarkably, on the lowest stone of the doorway where it would have been of negligible use. It was obviously repositioned during rebuilding and in the process rotated 90º clockwise so that the deeper cut noon line is horizontal rather than vertical to the ground. Encircled but not accurately – slightly elliptical. There are a dozen lines or so radiating from the gnomon in the dial stone, with the afternoon lines emphasised (ARG in 1924 found it ‘much damaged by weather’)
Dial 2 is eroded and in a poor state. Though larger than Dial 1, it is less visible, and ARG did not record it in his 1924 survey. It seems to have been cut on softer stone. Lichen makes it harder to read. The blocked gnomon hole is more or less in the centre of the dial stone. There are 7 definite lines leading from it, 2 angled into the upper half of the dial. It looks as if it might once have been encircled, but it is now hard to tell. BSS notes Crudely cut or made. Eroded. Trace of circle only. Partly hidden by rendering
NOTE In the churchyard is a sundial made up of a twelfth-century capital and base, both being set upside down HE
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial
Credits: Tina Osgood, taken during a recent visit; header image Basingstoke Gazette
A memorial sundial for Max Nicholson (1904 – 2003), founder of the World Wildlife Fund WWF. The setting is at the wonderful LONDON WETLAND CENTRE at Barnes London, a short distance south of Hammersmith Bridge. Nicholson was a pioneering ornithologist, environmentalist, and conservationist. There is a second memorial sundial at Sedbergh, where Nicholson was at school. Both were designed by his son Piers.
The hour lines have Arabic numerals for summer time and Roman for winter time; between the hour lines are short ten-minute lines and five-minute spots.
The mirror-polished stainless steel gives strong reflections, and the gnomon, which casts the shadow, appears to “float in air” because the matt circle appears to be continuous though part of it is in fact a reflection.
For about 5 minutes at solar noon, when the sun is at its highest in the sky, a line of light shines through the slit in the gnomon. This design feature is used to orient the sundial exactly to true North so that it can be read to the narest minute or two.
Description Source: MAX NICHOLSON MEMORIAL SUNDIAL
GSS Category: Horizontal Dial; Memorial Sundial
All photos: Keith Salvesen
ST MARY . MUDFORD . SOMERSET
GRADE I † Mostly early C14 and C15. Built with local stone: lias and ham. A fine C17 cube dial, 2 slightly unrewarding scratch dials, impressive gargoyles. A complete set of 5 bells dated 1582, 1621, 1623, 1664 and 1666, all by Purdue family. Some pews have graffiti from C17 on. 3m N of Yeovil. 50.9773 / -2.6086 / ST573199
C17 cuboid sundial as finials to gable coping HE
ASPECTS SE & SW
The SE face has a large gnomon inserted vertically into almost the whole depth of the cube. There are 4 (possibly 5) faint lines LHS that mark the morning’s progress. The SW face is (now?) plain, with an angled blade top R at roughly 45º.
ASPECTS SE & NE
The NE face has a blade gnomon at much the same angle as one the SW face. There’s plenty of lichen and no detectable marks.
ASPECTS NE & NW
The ‘back’ of the cube – the NW face – has no gnomon, but there are holes suggesting the location of one. No dial lines visible.
NOTE: It is almost impossible to get satisfactory photographs of all the faces of a cube dial. Two will always be in shade. Perhaps I need to go back at a different time of day. Or year.
MUDFORD: TWO SCRATCH DIALS
The two dials are on the inner face of the buttress at the E end of the church, one above the other – a less than optimal location. Dial 1 is very simple: a style hole with 2 lines descending either side of the vertical, in effect making the noon line the space between them. Dial 2 has 4 clear lines radiating from the style hole. These are E of the vertical, marking roughly 1 to 4 (there is no noon line). On both dials there are faint hints of other lines now eroded.
DEH recorded the Mudford dials in May 2015
GSS Category: Cube Dial; Scratch Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen
The secluded Monastery of Lluc is situated near Escorca in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca. It dates from the c13, and is famous for its Black Madonna, the discovery of which is said to have led to the monastery’s foundation . It is a place of pilgrimage. The location is remote and peaceful, though inevitably the monastery has become an essential stop on the tourist and coach party trail. We returned there recently, not having visited Mallorca for more than 20 years. The buildings were much as we remembered, but the parking and visitor arrangements were more regimented and complex. Before, one just drove down the narrow road from the main mountain road and parked in the forecourt area close to the buildings. Now, everything is (unsurprisingly) geared to a daily mass influx of people and their needs for sustenance and souvenirs. We were pleased to see that it is still possible to stay at Lluc in one of small rooms under a long covered walk where the monks once slept. You can even book a room for the night.
A short walk from the monastery, there is a path that leads up to a calvary and some great views. Along the way is an amazing multiple vertical sundial. It was designed by Rafael Soler, and carved in 1991. It displays with some style the evolution of sundials from medieval to modern. There are two historical dials, one solar dial, and two seasonal dials.
CANONICAL HOURS – LATINATE
This dial simply records the 3-hourly canonical divisions of the liturgical day (as with the early medieval mass / scratch dials), starting with midnight (top) and working counterclockwise round a central gnomon.
CANONICAL HOURS – BABYLONIAN / MALLORQUIN
A more complex dial, starting at noon shown as XXIV (I’m not clear why not XII) through to 21.00. The dial includes months and the signs of the Zodiac.
TEMPS VERTADER – TRUE SOLAR TIME
The centre dial shows true solar time. The polar gnomon (triangular) shows the hours, the pointer shows the date with the declination lines. The inscription MULIER AMICTER SOLE (Woman Clothed by the Sun) references an account in the Book of Revelations. You can find out more HERE
MEAN TIME DIAL (SUMMER /AUTUMN)
The two right-hand sundials are complementary and each covers two seasons. Presumably for a particular month, one dial will be reliable as to time and the ‘off-season’ one will not. The words are Catalan eg Hores Mitjanes = Mean Time; Estiu I Tardor = Summer and Autumn.
MEAN TIME DIAL (WINTER / SPRING)
The creation of these dials was obviously a labour of love and skill combined. There’s doubtless plenty more to be said about these sundials and the splendid ensemble but I decided not to get too technical – indeed, as an amateur I don’t understand enough to do so. The rather washed out appearance of the images was operator error – I had the camera on the wrong settings and didn’t realise until too late…
GSS Category: canonical to modern multi-dial; sundial Lluc Mallorca
All photos: Keith Salvesen; snippet from BSS record
Original Credits: ‘Props to arby101ca and lumbricus, members of a geocaching & waymarking website called Groundspeak. They hiked to Lluc (respect!) and wrote informatively about these dials. I found relatively little elsewhere.
GRADE I † C12 origins (nave c1150) on Saxon site, still with Norman features. Gradual C13 / C14 development and C18 / C19 works / restoration. Wooden-shingled bell turret, as other churches locally (eg Medstead.) Of relevance here, S porch added C18. 2m E of Alresford. 51.0843 / -1.1362 / SU605320
ARG visited in 1923 and recorded dials 1, 2, 3 but not dial 4 (high up above dial 3). Dials 1 & 2 are LHS of the original Norman doorway, within the later-added porch. ARG rightly discounted the very prominent OS benchmark below dial 3 that had elsewhere been recorded as a dial.
The most striking of the dials, not least because of the graffiti that surrounds it. It is cut on the W jamb (outer) of the original Norman doorway (c1150), inside the much later S porch. There are 4 strong lines descending from the style hole in the mortar line, and a short arc LHS.
The image above also shows the much less distinct dial 2 at the same level on the inner jamb. The triangular design above both is ornamentation on the slim column. Dial 1 is remarkably undamaged / unweathered considering the long period before the porch was added. It must have predated the C17 graffiti, which is itself in very good condition.
Dial 2 is also cut on the W jamb (inner) of the original Norman doorway (c1150) within the S porch. Very faint and hard to make out, even close to; easy to overlook. There are 4 discernible lines, with the hint of a double line at noon. The remains of whitewash make examination even more difficult.
Very visible as one walks up the church path, on a quoin stone on the SE corner of the nave. The dial is cut inside an eroded semicircle, with the style hole in the mortar line. Unsophisticated. There are 11 lines radiating below the horizontal, at rather random angles. It looks uncomfortable, as if it may originally have extended upwards onto an earlier stone: ARG notes that it is on one of the original large quoins C1150 (which does not match nearby stones), suggesting relocation of the adjacent stones or even of the dial stone itself.
ARG suggests that there is no obvious vertical / noon line. However the 2 deeper cut lines either side of noon may be intended to emphasise a ‘noon space’ between them, as is occasionally found elsewhere. ARG also posits that Dial 3 may be an interesting example of a ‘summer-only’ dial, though I can’t tell why: it faces more or less due S.
Dial 4 is high up on a quoin stone above Dial 3. It’s a very simple small dial with 4 lines leading from a style hole in the dial stone. There is a presumed Mass line (Terce), a noon line, a very faint short line, and an extended slightly curved line. BSS comments that the dial was at some time repositioned, being of little use in its present location.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial
All photos: Keith Salvesen
ST CHRISTOPHER . WINFRITH NEWBURGH . DORSET
GRADE II* † C12 origins, chancel added C13, nave & tower C15. Considerable C19 restoration & rebuilding. Quite a large church, with its gradual development evident. 6 confusing scratch dials. SE of Dorchester, W of Wareham. 50.6585 / -2.277 / SY805843
The scratch dials are in a group arranged around the S. door of the chancel. There are 6 in all (BHO records 4) but on the very dark local ironstone none is very clear. BSS / GLP dates them to C15, and their diagrams below are very helpful in marking the locations and configurations. I should say at once that I couldn’t definitively identify dial 3 (at / near the apex of the doorway’s arch) at the time nor in the photos I took see below.
GLP concluded that none of the dials was in its original position. 1, 3, 6 are inverted; the stones of 2, 4, 5 were shaped after the dials were cut, truncating them. Perhaps the entire doorway was originally built using reshaped stones from elsewhere on the church; or perhaps an existing doorway was later rebuilt or reshaped.
Dial 1 is on L side of the doorway. Inverted, with 5 lines pointing upwards. Style hole area heavily filled (possible repair of damage?). GLP suggests the lines are not convergent so very inaccurate.
Dial 2 is above dial 1, on the lowest stone of the doorway arch. Parts of the dial have been cut off at the edges. There are 12 lines, 5 pocks and a cement-filled style hole. Of all the dials, it is more or less correctly orientated, with a noon line emphasised by depth and length.
This is my candidate for dial 3. GLP describes it as very worn and inverted. Apart from the very clear unfilled style hole, he describes 2 trace lines above the dial. I couldn’t detect the 2 lines. The BSS diagram (see below) indicates dial 3 as being on the apex stone, but I found no evidence of a dial there.
Dial 4 is upper R side of the arch. There are 9 lines radiating from a plugged style hole, one (perhaps 3) with terminal pocks. The dial has clearly been rotated 90º clockwise. Sited correctly, the deeper incised lines L side would become midday lines. GLP considers it clearly and accurately marked (given the correct position).
Dial 5 is below dial 4 on a larger stone. It is very degraded and it isn’t easy to read. BSS notes 3 lines, and a pock possibly marking noon. My impression was of 2 additional trace lines. This dial is recorded as repositioned, set at a very oblique angle, and could never have been used in its present position.
Dial 6 is lower down on the R jamb approx level with dial 1. Again, it is inverted, with 6 distinct lines radiating upwards. One is marked with a cross, probably the Mass line.
BSS DIAGRAMS OF THE 6 INDIVIDUAL DIALS
NOTE: because of the dark ironstone I have brightened the images to make them clearer
GSS CATEGORY: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial
All photos Keith Salvesen; diagrams and research material GLP / BSS
ST MARTIN . HAUTERIVE . ORNE . NORMANDY
This unassuming little village is about 10 kms NE of Alençon, in the lower part of an area of Normandy south of Caen where medieval dials can be found on a number of village churches. Mostly, they are single examples but a handful of churches have a profusion of dials that are quite hard even to count let alone analyse.
The dial is quite complex. Its position is on the quoin of the chancel, however the only reference I have found suggests it was at one time on the R side of the main doorway. The church is obviously well looked-after and its care may have involved relocation of stones when repairs were carried out.
The details of the dial’s semicircular design are intricate. There is a big blocked gnomon hole that must have been enlarged over the years from something more proportionate. The noon line is emphasised by a large terminal pock. 10± visible lines radiate from the centre, though there must have been more. Most end in pocks: some single, some double, some triple. The pocks themselves have small lines around them, or 2 are joined to each other. Overall, the impression is of a perfectly serviceable traditional Mass dial that has been made enjoyably decorative.
I have included close-ups of the lower quadrants of the dial together with side shots to better show the complexity of the dial in its eroded state. I have never encountered one quite like this.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Dial France
All photos: Keith Salvesen
ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . SOMERSET
GRADE II* † C13 (with earlier record), gradual development. An attractively simple and harmonious country church. A slightly canted C20 vertical dial over the doorway (see below). Not an easy church to find – it is not where the signposts suggest (you may end up in Barrow). There’s a sign to St Stephen at the Wincanton end of the racecourse. 51.0678 / -2.4008 / ST720299
There is one scratch dial recorded for the church by DEH who visited in 1914, on LHS of the inner original doorway of the later added S porch. St Stephen is yet another S Somerset church, within a small radius, to have an inner dial. There is a second previously unrecorded dial, a completely different design, on the W side of the Priest’s door. The vertical dial is also shown below.
DEH: This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 5 feet 6 inches above the floor, the noonline is 2 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is due s. Type 2. April 17th, 1914.
Dial 1 is quite large and half hidden by a prayer board that I briefly relocated. It is cut on 2 stones, with the gnomon hole in the mortar line between them. It is encircled with a complete circumference, the upper half having neither radials or dots. The horizontal / mortar line / gnomon hole must have been damaged, with later extensive repair across the middle of the dial.
There are only 4 visible lines, none straight (in contrast with the accurate circle). The angles are roughly equal. The 2 a.m. lines (L of the noon line) terminate on the circumference. The single p.m. line extends some way beyond the circle; the noon line much more so, plunging downwards almost to the stone below. This feature is found even more dramatically at HOLTON 4m W
Dial 2 is on W side of the priest’s door and features a ring of pocks with no lines at all. Judging from the position of the style hole in the centre (approx) of the dial stone, and the curvature of the dots, the dial was presumably a complete circle originally. The upper L quadrant must have been damaged at some time and at some stage replaced by the smaller stone, with additional mortar to make the fit. Most of the dots are quite clear, a few are not: certainly 12, possibly a couple more.
The first pattern below is on the E side of the Priest’s door, at the same height as Dial 2. It would not be unusual to have this arrangement. It is in some ways dial-ish but I can’t take it further. I tried inverting (reverting?) the image but to no great effect. The second scratching was worth a closer look and although I’ve seen similar ones counted as dials, this one isn’t very plausible.
ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . VERTICAL DIAL
A modern dial dated 1916 set into the apex of the porch with the inscription Vigilate et Orate (Watch and Pray). The dial shows hours, half-hours, and quarter-hours. Each hour line ends in a small arrowhead. The dial stone is slightly canted and the footing of the gnomon is on the 11 line for accuracy. The noon line is emphasised with a deeper incision.
ST MARY . TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET
GRADE II* † Mainly C14, tower C15. C12 vestiges of earlier church. General C19 restorations including by T H Wyatt. A slightly unharmonious impression reflects the changes. Roughly midway between Shaftsbury to NW & Blandford to SW. 50.9135 / -2.1078 / ST925126
A single dial on S porch E of doorway. GLP calls it a remarkable dial, somewhat damaged. Its perplexing design has provoked several theories. The most straightforward is that it is in fact a transitional dial rather than a true scratch dial. BHO notes: Scratch Dial: on S. wall of porch, with black-letter numerals and stump of iron gnomon, early 16th century, which is probably meant generically rather than specifically. GLP, with his compendious knowledge of Dorset dials, dates this one much earlier, late C14.
The dial stone is far larger than any other porch stone and seems out of place. The first impression is of a large dial doubly encircled but with the upper half damaged and eroded over the centuries. GLP suggests remnants of large dial with all hour lines marked. The fact that the gnomon hole – still with the stub of an iron rod – is almost exactly at the centre of the dial stone supports the theory of an originally complete circular dial rather than partial arcs. In the upper L quadrant there are hints of double circumference lines continuing upwards.
LINES & POCKS
The details of the dial are intriguing. There are 10 lines leading to numerals carved in blackletter / Gothic form. Legible numbers run from 5am to noon, then there are 2 lines with eroded numerals. There is a plausible very faint near-horizontal line RHS. Hours 9, 10, 11, & 12 are marked with a cross rather than the roman numeral X (see diagram below).
There are also 5 pocks. 4 decorate the noon line. 1 is halfway down the 11 line which is nearly vertical, indicating (I think) that the dial was cut to take account of the orientation of the wall.
Unusually, the dial has the stump of an iron gnomon. It seems unlikely to be original and looks more square than round (cf GLANVILLES WOOTTON , also in Dorset). Whether original or not, there is no way of telling how (if at all) it was angled.
GLP suggests that the dial may be an interesting transitional dial and notes that it would probably not have been accurate. One theory is that this was a horizontal dial set vertically; or with a horizontal design used for this vertical dial. He concludes that it is as much a decorative feature as a real timekeeper. My query is whether C14 dials were sophisticated enough to be making the transition from basic scratch to accurate scientific dials.
GSS Category: scratch dial; transitional dial; vertical dial
All photos Keith Salvesen; dial diagram BSS / GLP
FORDE ABBEY . DORSET
GRADE I † Cistercian Abbey dating from C12, becoming a fine stately home C17 with beautiful gardens and landscaping. Near Chard. 50.8434° N, 2.9113° W
Dial 1 is prominently in the centre of the parapet, crowned with a broken pediment and ball. It has been dated late c17 or early c18. The spindly gnomon has been considerably bent to make the dial as accurate as possible (and see dial 2), given the orientation of the building. At some time, the top end has had to be re-fixed into the stone.
BSS records as Located in roof line castellations. An apparently blank dial plate with painted numbers on the stonework outside – possibly a later innovation. Upright white sans-serif hour numerals VII – IIII. Noon is marked with a square box and 4pm as IIII. Long thin rod gnomon with unusual support formed by a second rod to the tip, itself with a short stay near its foot. Declination is E.
Dial 2 is located high on a tower, in effect at right-angles to dial 1. It is basically all gnomon and no actual dial face. I haven’t seen a large spindly design like this before. Although it has a rather home-made look to it, the design and positioning must have been carefully calculated, As with dial 1, the orientation of the building necessitated a corrective angle in relation to the sun’s movement. The shadow cast by this rather intriguing ‘gnomon sundial’ seems completely adequate for marking the passage of the day even without additional markings.
GSS Category: Old Dial; Gnomon Dial; C17 dial; C18 dial; Vertical Dial
All photos: Keith Salvesen