NORTH CURRY . SOMERSET . ST PETER & ST PAUL – SCRATCH DIAL?

St Peter and St Paul . North Curry . Somerset

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 blue lias (as found on the Jurassic Coast). Octagonal tower cf neighbouring Stoke St Gregory. 8m E of Taunton. 51.0255 /  -2.9717 / ST319255

DIAL?

DEH visited in 1912 and somewhat hesitantly included this church in his pioneering survey of Somerset dials: There is a doubtful dial on the w. side of the s. porch. It consists of a much worn stone, with a stylehole (?) which is filled up, and some marks that might be lines. The stone is so soft and worn that it is impossible to say with certainty whether it was once a dial.

There is nothing extant in that location to match the description given. The reference to soft, worn stone suggests the blue lias component of the porch front (built c1502). If so, the obvious candidate for a dial is shown in the photos: but how might such a confiruration have worked? BBS does not mention it. The conclusion must be… not a dial.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photographs: Keith Salvesen

SEAVINGTON ST MICHAEL . SOMERSET – 2 Scratch Dials, Medieval Graffiti

Seavington St Michael . Somerset

 

SEAVINGTON ST MICHAEL . SOMERSET

GRADE II* Late C12, porched c1291; C15 alterations, C19 restoration. Attractively simple with its welcoming footpath, porch, and modest bell turret. Adjacent to S St Mary and 4m E of Ilminster. 50.931 / -2.8407 /  ST410149

DIALS

BLB notes that the centre bay on south side has a blocked chamfered pointed-arched doorway, with diamond-leaded window inserted with cill just below springing. The dials are one above the other on W side of the doorway. Strangely, although DEH on his visit in 1915 records one dial in precisely this location, he doesn’t mention the second.

DEH noted that the buttresses either side of the recessed doorway inevitably block out the light for much of the day, as it had on the day he visited (possibly why he only found one dial?). He concluded that the buttresses were a later addition to the church (probably XVII Century), when the doorway was filled up.

DIAL 1

The uppermost, larger, less sophisticated, and the earliest of the 2 dials. 6, perhaps 7 lines. The ones either side of the noon line are slightly curved. Gnomon hole plugged though not with cement.

DIAL 2

Beneath Dial 2 and far more visible. There are 6, perhaps 7 lines, of which the the afternoon lines are much the clearest. The noon line has an unusually prominent pock. The adjacent lines LRQ are even deeper cut. One is also elongated, probably indicating the most significant Mass of the day. One of the fainter lines LHS heads ineffectively above the horizontal. The gnomon hole is surprisingly deep.

MEDIEVAL GRAFFITI

The church porch has plenty of graffiti including initials, Marian marks, ritual protection (witch) marks, and pilgrim crosses

Seavington St Michael . Somerset – medieval graffiti

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; medieval graffiti

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WINTER OBELISK & HORIZONTAL SUNDIAL . SELBORNE . HANTS

Selborne in Hampshire was home to the C18 naturalist GILBERT WHITE (1720 – 93), renowned naturalist and considered to be one of the earliest ecologists. The link above will take you to the Wiki page about him. The history of the garden can be found at SELBORNE. If you are in the area, Selborne is well worth visiting. In particular, the extensive park contains examples of White’s propagation and conservation ideas that were way ahead of their time. And two very different dials.

Gilbert White . NPG

Much the most interesting feature at Selborne for present purposes is the Winter Obelisk, based on an idea by White. The structure is designed to ‘mark the position of sunset on the shortest day as viewed from the Great Parlour‘. Possibly it is a unique example of an obelisk dial having such a special – and limited – purpose. Perhaps it doesn’t count as a dial at all (cf Stonehenge / summer solstice). Seeing the shadows cast on the grass by the structure, perhaps there is scope to mark out a different kind of dial with a wider application (though not necessarily when viewed from the Great Parlour).

The second dial at Selborne is conventional and very much a park dial, standing above the Ha-ha. Is the dial contemporary in the historic sense, or in the modern sense (there are similar early C20 dials)? The former it seems: Both the ha-ha and the stone sundial standing on the lawn above it were features of White’s ‘New Gardens’. HE

GSS Category: Sundial; Horizontal Dial; Obelisk Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

PRESTON CANDOVER OLD CHURCH . HANTS . ST MARY THE VIRGIN – 2 Scratch Dials

St Mary . Preston Candover Old Church

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

DIALS

Both dials are on the south wall of the Chancel, L of the blocked Priest’s door.

St Mary . Preston Candover Old Church . Dials

DIAL 1

St Mary . Preston Candover Old Church – ScraDial 1

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’)

St Mary . Preston Candover Old Church Dial BSS
A R Green – Dial 1 1924

DIAL 2

St Mary . Preston Candover Old Church –

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

St Mary . Preston Candover Old Church Dial BSS

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

HORIZONTAL DIAL . LONDON WETLAND CENTRE (WWT) . BARNES

Max Nicholson Memorial Sundial . Wildlife & Wetlands

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

MUDFORD . SOMERSET . ST MARY – Cube Dial & 2 Scratch Dials

St Mary . Mudford . Somerset

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

CUBE DIAL

St Mary . Mudford . Somerset – Cube Dial

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

LLUC MONASTERY . MALLORCA . COMPLEX MULTI-DIAL: from Canonical to 20th Century

Multiple Vertical Sundial, Lluc Monastery, Mallorca (Keith Salvesen)
Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial (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.

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial

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. 

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial (Canonical)

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.

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial – Babylonian / Mallorquines

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

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial

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.

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial

MEAN TIME DIAL (WINTER / SPRING)

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial
BBS Record

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…

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca

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.

BISHOPS SUTTON . HANTS . ST NICHOLAS – 4 Scratch Dials (2 inside porch)

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants

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

DIALS

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.

DIAL 1

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.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

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.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1
St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2

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.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

DIAL 3

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Scratch Dial 3

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

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.

St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Benchmark below Dial 3
St Nicholas . Bishops Sutton . Hants – Graffiti RHS doorway inc. apotropaic VV mark

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WINFRITH NEWBURGH . DORSET . ST CHRISTOPHER – 6 Scratch Dials

St Christopher . Winfrith Newburgh . Dorset

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

DIALS

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.

St Christopher . Winfrith Newburgh . Dorset – the ‘Dial Doorway’ with 6 scratch dials

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

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

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.

DIAL 3

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

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

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

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.

Dials 2 -5 B&W: the hole top L presumably marks 3.. No clues on the apex stone
Winfrith Newburgh – 6 dials diagram

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

HAUTRIVE . ORNE . NORMANDY . ÉGLISE SAINT-MARTIN – Scratch Dial

St Martin . Hautrive . Orne . Normandy

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.

DIAL

St Martin . Hautrive . Orne . Normandy – Scratch Dial

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