KNIGHTON . POWYS . ST EDWARD – Scratch Dial (?)

St Edward . Knighton . Powys

KNIGHTON . POWYS . ST EDWARD

GRADE II. ‘Victorian Gothic rebuilding of earlier church of which the medieval west tower is the only survival- no remains of 1752 Georgian rebuildBLB. A handsome reconstructed church in a pleasant town, well-situated on Offa’s Dyke close to the point where Powys meets Hereford and Shropshire. The only church dedication to St Edward in Wales – he, along with St Richard, seem to be somewhat overlooked across much of Britain. 52.3457 / -3.0477 / SO287724

DIAL?

The double rebuilding of a medieval church (except for its tower) must inevitably have expunged almost all traces of the early building, and with that its church marks. Or so you would think. Yet when I visited the church on a warm September evening in sunshine, I saw what – on a church with a different history – might be taken as a medieval pock dial. I realise that it is most unlikely. However, restoration and rebuilding does not preclude the reuse and / or relocation of stones from the original church. It was a common practice, for obvious reasons.

St Edward . Knighton . Powys – scratch dial?

There is no visible style hole. The curved pocked pattern seems intentional but – absent some architectural or decorative purpose – it is difficult to account for the design. Given the church history, claiming dial status is debatable. However I have seen far less convincing dials elsewhere. The stone fits with the church. Its location on the porch wall – perhaps intentionally during reconstruction – is appropriate. But probably I have an amateur dial collector’s over-optimism. Maybe this sort of find shows how intriguing the analysis of church marks can be.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

PEWSEY . WILTS . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST – Scratch Dials

St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts

PEWSEY . WILTS . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

GRADE I. Saxon origins. C11 Norman and later development inc. C12 nave, C13 aisles, C16 tower, C18 expansion, C19 restorations. An interesting church, with C12 Norman limestone font with suspended cover; and wonderful early C17 clock. Enjoy the Kennet & Avon canal while you are there. 51.3379 / -1.7664 / SU163598

DIAL

The dial is on S. side of the chancel, on the E. quoin stone of E. end buttress. The appearance is of a classic 6-to-6 dial (not within a semicircle) on a lovely colourful stone. 11 clear lines (the 9 line is not visible – erosion? Omission of the Terce line seems unlikely). The longer 11 line extends to the mortar line below. 3 lines are emphasised inc. noon line. There are several pocks, a few at the end of lines – those at the ends of the horizontal must almost certainly part of the dial.

I wrote ‘appearance’ above, because looking closely at the photos, the dial is in fact slightly less straightforward. There are 2 faint lines and the hint of another in the upper right quadrant (see large image below).

St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts – Scratch Dial

DIAL 2? (unrecorded)

In several places on the outside walls there are groups of church marks and graffiti – initials, dates, apotropaic (witch) marks / Marian symbols. While photographing these I noticed a very small rustic dial scratched in the angle of wall and buttress on the S. side. I might have ignored it or classified it as ‘doubtful’, but the crude cuts in the stone running from the putative style hole suggest a casual dial attempt – possibly a trial run, and / or a contribution to the gallery of marks in this area.

GSS Catregory: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

HOLWELL . DORSET – ST LAURENCE: 3 Scratch Dials

DEDICATION † St Laurence. Mainly C15, some rebuilding C18, with restoration and additions in 1885 by Crickmay, the notable Dorset architect. One of a number of local churches with stocks.

LISTING † Grade 1

LOCATION † Not actually in Holwell but 1m N. towards Bishop’s Caundle, in a hamlet known as The Borough. Just before you turn down the lane to reach the church, don’t miss the UK’s oldest letter box still in use. It is dated 1853, just one year after roadside boxes were introduced. 50.9064 / -2.4289 / ST699119

DIALS

On the buttress E. of porch, 2 eroded scratch dials one above the other; a further small rough dial in the upper half of the lower dial. A possible dial, unrecorded, at the W. end quite high on the SW. face of a buttress. If a dial, it is inverted and presumably repositioned. The dials were photographed on different days in different lights from bright sunshine to overcast, hence the colour variations

GLP records that the 3 dials are ‘very important as 2 of them are cut across two adjoining stones. This means that they must be in situ’. He dates them to late C15.

There is also a later dial, included below: On parapet above porch arch, square stone dial with incised degrees, perhaps 18th century BHO

THREE DIALS ON THE BUTTRESS

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – 3 dials on one buttress

DIAL 1 (upper)

Semicircular with a full complement of 6-to-6 radials, eroded on R side. A disorganised pattern of lines for straightness and distancing, with many ending with pocks. Lines and pocks extend to the stone below, especially the noon line. GLP records 16 lines, 6 with pocks, further pocks including a cross formation at the end of the noon line (triple pock cross BSS). He notes some half-hour lines and comments that the dial is very accurately cut.

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 1 (upper)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 1 (upper)

BSS diagram

DIAL 2 (lower)

Dial 2 is encircled, most visibly the upper L quadrant, the R side being eroded. Compared with Dial 1, the details are indistinct. The photos below were taken in different lights to help with examination. The radials – many with terminal pocks – are within the lower half of the dial, with Dial 3 located in the upper half (see below).

GLP notes 11 lines with 6 ending in holes, plus the masonry joint as the horizontal, very inaccurately drawn with only one line in the correct position. GLP concludes that, though impressive, the dial was probably of very little use.

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)

St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
St Laurence . Holwell . Dorset – scratch dial 2 (lower)
BSS diagram

DIAL 3 (inset in Dial 2)

A small rustic dial embedded within the top half of Dial 2. Eroded stone and lichen make it hard to analyse the dial much more. The BSS diagram below is the most helpful guide. GLP mentions 3 lines and a very worn circumference line. He notes that this dial, as with Dial 2, would have been of very little use.

BSS diagram

DIAL ABOVE THE PORCH

Featured here for interest and completeness, and will be written up on the OLD DIALS page

The dial is above the S. porch. Hard to date, but relatively complex. There are no numerals, and the lines from 6am to 6pm mark the hours, half-hours and the quarter-hours, carefully graduated. Some lines (eg 8am) are emphasised. There is no gnomon though there must have been one. The presumed site seems to be slightly off-centre at the top, where there is an area of damage. The dial was renovated in 1998 by S&L Kellard of Street, and the decision must have been made not to add a modern gnomon.

DIAL 4 (unrecorded, plausible)

As mentioned above, there is a possible dial quite high on the SW. face of a buttress at the W end. If it is a dial, it must have been repositioned and inverted in the process (shown reverted below)

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

EARDISLAND . HEREFORD . ST MARY THE VIRGIN – 2 Scratch Dials

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire

GRADE II*. C12 origins, C13 with C14 additions (chancel, S. porch); tower rebuilt mid C18 after a collapse; Victorian restoration. Much of the medieval church in evidence. External and internal masons’ marks, graffiti etc. A pretty village on the R. Arrow, on the ‘Black & White Village Trail’ 52.2218 / -2.8497 / SO420585

DIAL 1

On the R. side of the S. porch, on the stone below the architrave. The stone below has marks that are probably apotropaic. 3 definite lines descending from the mortar line and through a slanting line that looks most like a fault in the stone – that may also apply to the 4th ridged line on the left side, or perhaps it was cut / added at a different time.

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2

Cut into the large quoin stone on R. side of the priest’s door and spanning its width. The dial has a relatively complex design, perhaps combining its practical purpose with decorative effect. Erosion has made interpretation difficult. The style hole, now a small cave, is in the mortar line. The lower R quadrant shows part of 3 concentric semi-circles. There’s a hint – best seen top L – that at least the inner circle line continued above the horizontal. There’s little other sign of a more complete circle.

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial 2

Erosion and lichen obscure the finer details. BSS records 7 lines but a close-up photo in sunlight reveals about a dozen, with possibly some shorter lines (half-hour marks?). There are also pocks, 2 or 3 of which could relate to the dial – in particular the 2 ‘terminal’ ones adjacent to the noon line just above the mortar.

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial 2

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

CLUNGUNFORD . SHROPSHIRE . ST CUTHBERT – Scratch Dial

St Cuthbert . Clungunford . Shropshire

CLUNGUNFORD . SHROPSHIRE . ST CUTHBERT

GRADE II*. C13 origins; C14 and later additions / alterations; restored late C19. There are good witch marks and other graffiti on some of the doorways. Long and low in a lovely setting between Craven Arms (N) and Leintwardine (S). 52.4033 / -2.8909 / SO394787

DIAL 1

This recorded dial is quite high (3m approx) on the buttress at the E. end. There are 3 clear lines including the deeper, longer noon line that descends to the edge of the stone below. The R side of the dial is eroded, with 2 fainter lines and a third barely visible. The gnomon hole is in the mortar line. The style has amusingly been replaced by a drill bit, the height suggesting that someone took the trouble to get a ladder for the purpose.

St Cuthbert . Clungunford . Shropshire – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2 (unrecorded)

To W. of the priest’s door and the large window to its right is another dial, unrecorded as far as I can tell. It is low on the buttress, 3 stones up from the base. There are 7, perhaps 8, lines radiating from the mortar line, where there is a small metal plate inserted with an unknown purpose. There are 6 pocks that almost certainly belong with the dial. Regrettably our friend with the drill was unable to restrain his DIY instincts on 3 of them.

St Cuthbert . Clungunford . Shropshire – Scratch Dial 2

DIAL 3 (unrecorded)

On the 4th quoin up on the E end, amidst some dead ivy stalks, there’s a further dial candidate. There are 3 noticeable lines and faint traces of a couple more. There is a plausible style hole at the apex of the lines. At the time I wondered whether the design should be awarded dial status. Having examined the photos I now think it should be. All the main criteria are met (location, position, radials, style hole). Luckily the driller has not plied his trade here.

St Cuthbert . Clungunford . Shropshire – Scratch Dial 3

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

WENTNOR . SHROPSHIRE . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – Scratch Dial

Wentnor . Shropshire . St Michael and All Angels

Grade II*. Medieval origins, largely rebuilt using old materials in 1886. Some C12 details (small window, S. doorway). One of a number of hilltop churches in the region, and just W. of the Long Mynd. 2.5283 / -2.91 / SO383926

A scratch dial on this church is mentioned in TWC‘s county lists but not, as far as I can find, elsewhere. It seemed worth visiting as we were nearby. The only likely candidate I could find was in much the most likely location for a dial, to the left of the very early door and on the best stone (long before the porch was added). The configuration of the pocks suggest an afternoon dial marked from a (part-filled) style hole. It’s certainly a plausible candidate for TWC’s dial, and I could find no other. On balance, I’d rate it a probable more than a possible.

Wentnor . Shropshire . St Michael and All Angels – probable scratch dial as recorded by TWC

GSS Category – Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

BRAMPTON BRYAN . HEREFORD . ST BARNABAS – Scratch Dial

St Barnabas . Brampton Bryan . Herefordshire

GRADE 1. C14, earliest record for the site 1275. Largely destroyed in 1643 during the Civil War, as was the adjacent castle. Almost entirely rebuilt in 1656. Late C19 alterations and extensions. Much of interest including a triple hammerbeam roof. Most notable as a rare example of a church built (or rebuilt) during the Commonwealth. 52.3471 / -2.9255 / SO370725

DIAL

St Barnabas . Brampton Bryan . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial (Circle type)

The dial, a large circle, is on a short buttress under the E. window. There are few detectable marks, not least because of the lichen that covers most of it. The presumed style hole is basically a dimple in the centre. The present position – and indeed the history of the building – indicates relocation. It’s hard to say how useful it might originally have been, but it adds to the remnants of the church’s medieval past.

PLAUSIBLE ADDITIONAL DIAL (UNRECORDED)

To the right of the E. buttress on the E. end, there is a darker reddish stone, of a type seen elsewhere in the stonework, that caught my eye. There were 2 distinct long downward lines from an apex where there might credibly be a style hole. My photos don’t show the stone and markings as clearly as they looked to the eye. I immediately thought it was a probable dial. If so – given its position – the stone was undoubtedly relocated during reconstruction. I leave these images as food for thought. Comments are welcome.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

CHURCH STRETTON . SHROPSHIRE . ST LAURENCE – 2 scratch dials (unrecorded)

St Laurence . Church Stretton . Shropshire

GRADE 1. Church. C12 nave with C13 transepts, crossing and chancel; tower upper stage C15, vestry added 1831; transept aisles added 1868 in restoration; further restoration 1882 and 1932. Large and dignified PEV. Attractive small town and gateway to the remarkable and beautiful Long Mynd (518m). 52.5382 / -2.8088 / SO452936

DIALS

St Laurence at first sight is clearly much expanded and restored over the centuries. Parts of a much earlier church are evident. The existence of any external decorative features such a scratch dial seemed highly unlikely*. However the stonework round the small doorway looked older, reused, possibly in its original configuration. It was certainly worth walking along the path to take a look.

St Laurence . Church Stretton . Shropshire – doorway with medieval stones and 2 scratch dials

On the W. side of the doorway is a single stone with 2 simple part-dials incised. Their edge positions show that 3 stones were originally involved, but no other stones round the doorway matched the patterns, nor had obvious cuts. So in fact the positions of the stones must have been altered. From what remains of the dials, it is hard to guess how they must have looked but presumably their style holes must have been in the mortar dividing the 3 stones. Possibly this stone is inverted.

The dials are unrecorded by BSS, and I can find no other reference. It is understandable that in their present state they attract little or no attention. Perhaps the moral for dial sleuths is that any church that has a ‘dial-y’ look is worth a quick investigation.

* If I had explored further, the church records mention exterior carvings including St Laurence holding a gridiron, and a rare sheela-na-gig, probably of Saxon date. 

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial (unrecorded)

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN

GRADE 1. Church origins obscure; existing building dates from C15 with substantial C19 rebuilding. Renowned font carved from the column of a C10 Saxon cross and inverted. Excellent chest tombs. Next to a fine C17 Manor. The hamlet – Hardy’s ‘Little Hintock’ – is a few miles SW. of Sherborne, nestled into a peaceful hillside with outstanding views over the Blackmore Vale, shielded from the roar of the lethal A37 Yeovil – Dorchester road. 50.8571°N / 2.5753°W / ST596065

DIAL

BSS register and GLP describe a ‘doubtful’ dial: On W. buttress of tower, late C15. A doubtful dial consisting of a single horizontal line leading to a shallow hole. This could be the remains of a painted dial, or a piece of graffiti.

BSS Diagram of the doubtful dial

This church is local to us. We can see it clearly from our house 2 miles away. Since I started this blog, I have checked the buttress two or three times and failed to find a mark similar to the diagram. There are some horizontal faults in the stone, but I haven’t seen anything as precise.

Recently I decided to try again, choosing early evening on a sunny day when the light would be shining directly onto the face of the buttress. Which it did. This is what was revealed, faintly visible in direct sunlight.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

There’s an element of wish fulfilment with amateur dial sleuthing – each hole a potential gnomon location; two or more proximate lines as radials; adjacent erosion faults and dots as dial pocks. However, close inspection here revealed a clear design conforming to dial norms.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

The central hole has horizontal and vertical lines leading from it that divide the enclosed area into quadrants. There is the trace of a circle, slightly off-centre from the style hole. The upper vertical extends close to the circumference; the lower vertical (noon-line) stops slightly short of it; the left horizontal extends beyond almost to the lichen; and the right horizontal extends into the lichen. There’s a trace of what could be a 1-line to the right of the noon-line.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial annotated

Having examined the dial in situ, made some measurements, and checked my photos I am convinced that this is a simple scratch dial probably from C15 soon after the tower was built rather than later. In any event I have convinced myself.

The remarkable font deserves inclusion. HE describes it as a cylindrical tapering stone bowl, reversed, formerly base of a shaft, carved with continuous design of beasts: stag, horse, wolf, and ?lion, and lesser beasts, and interlacement, C10. There is a helpful description and annotated diagram in the church.

I have seen St Mary described as a ‘one-treasure church’, but the whole interior, the churchyard with its early chest tombs, the lovely setting of the church and hamlet – and possibly a C15 mass dial – make it rather more than that.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – the C10 Saxon-origin font

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

STANTON ST BERNARD . WILTS . ALL SAINTS – SCRATCH DIAL

Stanton St Bernard . Wilts . All Saints

STANTON ST BERNARD . WILTS . ALL SAINTS

Grade II. Mid C13, with a Norman font suggesting earlier origins. Tower C15. By early C19, dilapidated and demolished (apart from the tower) and rebuilt. The work was inferior and re-rebuilding was soon required. Close to the Kennet & Avon canal between Devizes and Pewsey. 51.3598 / -1.8703 / SU09162

DIAL

Badly eroded and degraded, the dial is located on the SW face of the buttress S of the W door. Apart from the semicircle at the top it is hard to discern how the dial might have looked. At first sight, this is a dial cut across 2 stones (there’s a hint of a circle on the lower stone), with the style hole presumably lost in the damaged area (the mortar line looks too high for one). Listed by TWC; not in the BSS register

Alternatively, possibly the combination of dilapidation, demolition and double rebuilding in C19 included rearranging some of the stonework of the tower that otherwise survived the chaos. Conceivably the present visible ‘semicircle stone’ was parted from a companion stone cut with the rest of the dial that was repurposed elsewhere.

Stanton St Bernard . Wilts . All Saints – Scratch Dial and Graffiti

Apart from the dial, there are quite a few witch marks and graffiti / initials. I take the double triangle mark beside the dial to be an emphatic ritual protection mark rather than, for example, a mason’s mark.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Witch Marks; Graffiti

All photos – Keith salvesen