ABOUT

Scratch dial St Mary the Virgin  Hermitage Dorset (Keith Salvesen)
St Mary the Virgin Hermitage Dorset

MEDIEVAL SUNDIALS – KNOWING THE TIME

This completely new project started from scratch and, conveniently, the focus is mainly on scratch (mass) dials. The  project involves the medieval churches of Wessex, of which there are a great many. I am a dial amateur so if you are knowledgable, let alone an expert, this is an opportunity to turn aside now before you go any further. I have some experience of winging it in other specialist areas, so I hope the technique will work here. Also, I am a member of the British Sundial Society BSS which is a great resource to have.

One aspect of the project is to display the photographs of dials on the west country churches that I am currently exploring. Some will be from past church visits elsewhere. If you are dial purist, a stickler for correct terminology, or keen on the forensic details of radial lengths, style hole depths dial heights and angles, you may feel short-changed. In many cases the photos will give you as much information as I could by carrying instruments other than a camera. Quite often I am able to incorporate material from other sources, including from a select few who walked round the same churchyards, examined the same porches and investigated the same priest’s doors as I am 100 years later.

The overall period under consideration is spans roughly 500 years from c12 to c16. The area covered mainly involves a broad definition of Wessex that extends into Glos. Ox. Hants. and Corn. besides the more traditional counties Wilts. Dor. Som. and Dev. 

Armillary Logo

My background is in Law and more recently in natural history, mainly birds and marine mammal conservation elsewhere in the world. If one can have an undercurrent of sundial interest, that’s been there since I discovered an Arts and Crafts ‘Liberty’ sundial hidden under a lot of earth in an overgrown pigsty when I was about 10. It had no gnomon. I still have it, gnomon-less. The motto reads:

I mark the passing hour as the shadows come and go

EMAIL sundials@gaudiumsubsole.org

Keith Salvesen
Keith Salvesen