Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene

DEDICATION † St Mary Magdalene. C15 (on the site of a ?C11 church). Mid C18 rebuilding / restoration (after collapsed chancel). A few early fittings. Screen, font, bells, wall tablets of note. Fragment of stone in middle S. buttress of chancel with pre-conquest interlacement BHO

LISTING † Grade I (Pevsner Dorset 106; BHO)

LOCATION † Remote extended hamlet deep in farming country a few miles SW. of Sherborne and NE. of Dorchester. Nestled under the north flank of a long ridge. Reached by lanes to N. and a very steep narrow lane down from the ridge. The church is immediately below, set into the hillside. 50.8331, -2.543, ST618038

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene . Scratch Dial

DIAL † Previously unrecorded. On the SW. face of the NE. buttress of the tower, about 4′ high. An encircled rustic dial with 2 clear radials, 3 less defined and at least one trace line (see annotated image below). Others lines may have eroded. The style hole is mortared (as so often) so tracing the centre point is not possible. In any case, while the circle is accurately incised, the rest of the dial is randomly cut.

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene . Scratch Dial

The noon-line (if intended as such) is a diameter rather than radius, cut straight to the style hole and bent below it. There are some pocks on the dial stone, 3 of which may relate to the dial itself. The dots at each end of (non-)vertical diameter line suggest an approximate noon-line rather than 2 separate radials.

Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene . Scratch Dial (annotated)

NOTES † A small ritual protection mark – a tiny shield-shaped face – to the right of the entrance door. Such apotropaic symbols were carved or scratched usually by a door or window or in the porch to prevent evil from entering the church and to repel it from the vicinity

Ritual Protection Mark / Apotropaic Symbol / ‘Witch Mark’, Batcombe . Dorset . St Mary Magdalene

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen

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