GRADE I † C13 origin; tower rebuilt and alterations C15 . Modern (C20) restorations. Early C13 font. Unusual appearance with pleasing matched roof-lines. BHO notes On S.E. buttress of S. transept—scratch dial*. 3m SE of Crewkerne. 50.8571 / -2.7514 / ST472066
A conundrum. BBS records (1997) show a complex dial, part-encircled and with 10 lines (one extended) and 12 distinct pocks. GLP notes that the continuation of the circumference onto the stone above indicates that the dial is in its original location. He suggests that it may be the remains of a LHS half-circle (cf HOLWELL and HERMITAGE).
GLP also points out disapprovingly an attempted ‘restoration’ with thin lines scratched along some of the original lines and part of the circumference line… and most of the holes ‘cleaned up’. These lines can be seen in the images below.
However, although a close shot shows the recently added lines, the dial did not reveal the considerable detail shown in the diagram. I am equipped with a camera and a pair of eyes, but (as an amateur) I could not read the S Perrott dial as I had hoped to.
Details of a dial can sometimes be seen more clearly in a B&W photo. It works to a limited extent here, but not enough to bring out, in 2023, the overall design as recorded in the past.
*It is slightly unusual for sources such as BHO, HE, BLB, to acknowledge scratch dials
GRADE II* † Saxon origins (vestiges still visible); C13, C15; rebuilt tower 1667 (unusually, lower than the nave roof-line); restorations (Wyatt). Split from Burcombe village (S Burcombe) by A30 and hard to find. St John is the sole remnant of N Burcombe. Declared redundant 2005. I could not gain entry. 5m W of Salisbury. 51.0798 / 1.8971 / SU073311
The Burcombe dial is a slight secret, mentioned in TWC‘s Wiltshire dial list but not elsewhere that I can see. St John is also hard to find: check the location carefully before you try. This is a pretty dial, a messy mix of lines and pocks below the horizontal. The noon line – usually an eye-catcher – is upstaged by lines with varying degrees of curve and pocking. It’s hard to interpret, but the two ‘raking light’ photos add a bit of perspective.
St John . Burcombe . Wilts – Scratch Dial
St John also has a canted vertical dial above the porch, with a pleasingly robust gnomon. It fits in with the stonework around it and looks old. However any details on the dial face have been eroded. Unfortunately I didn’t have a proper camera with me to check closely for lines etc. but I wouldn’t expect revelations.
Quaere placename – a mapping mistake
In the early 17th century, when John Speed prepared a map of Wiltshire he copied a version by Christopher Saxton, which showed but did not name North Burcombe. On his own map, Speed labelled the village Quaere (Latin for query), presumably because he intended to check the name later, but never did, and his engraver copied the annotation as if it were the village’s name. Later map printers in turn copied Speed’s map and ‘Quaere’ appeared on maps of Wiltshire for 145 years until Emanuel Bowen corrected the mistake in his 1755 map of the county. (WIKI)
This post relates directly to its companion in Pt 1. Both articles feature the remarkable cube dial dated 1689, now preserved inside the Grade I listed church of St Nicholas, Trellech, Monmouth – the original and a fine recent (2007) wooden replica. You can find images of the original dial and each of its faces, with detailed descriptions, HERE. The location is 5m S of Monmouth 51.7459 / -2.725 / SO500054
DIAL . 2007
The images of Face 4 below illustrate a frequent experience with cube dials. Invariably, prevailing conditions preclude more than 3 faces being properly photographed. One face will always frustrate all attempts to get a decent photo. Furthermore, it is very difficult to improve a poor photo – it just becomes a different kind of poor. Quite often the only answer is to make the image B&W to catch detail .With apologies, this is what has emerged from the darkroom.
Below the dial are inscriptions on the substantial columns, with carvings that relate to the 3 features of historical importance to the village and its community: Tump Terret; Harold’s Stones; and Virtuous Well.
GRADE I † Early C14 with earlier origins; reconstruction & restorations 1890s. An exceptionally fine and well preserved medieval church (Cadw); One of the finest churches in the county (PEV). Coat-of-Arms of Charles II dated 1683. Weathercock of 1792. You need no further recommendation. 5m S of Monmouth. 51.7459 / -2.725 / SO500054
A wonderful C18 cube dial dated 1689, the gift of Lady Probert. Once, it stood in the village near the school. It was moved in 1895 and one source suggests that a concrete cast was made. The Latin inscriptions on the dial are descriptive of 3 features that are of historical importance to the village: Tump Terret; Harold’s Stones; and Virtuous Well. The details (PEV) are:
The detailed BSS record adds further details, including the full Latin motto on S, N & E faces: EUNDO HORA . DI…EM . DEPASCIT (The Hour Itself Consumes the Day).
Also included are the inscriptions on the square stone below the dial: 1. Terret Tump – O QUOT HIC SEPULTI (O How Many Buried Here); 2. Harold’s Stones – HIC FUIT VITOR HAROLD (Here was Harold Victorious); 3. DOM MAGD PROBERT OSTENDIT (Lady Maud Probert set this out to view).
PART 2 will examine the excellent modern wooden replica (out)standing in a small field by a crossroads. It has been beautifully designed and is a dial of distinction in its own right.
GSS Category: Cube Dial; Multiple Dial
All photos Keith Salvesen; Pevsner extract Gwent & Monmouthshire; BSS records; church noticeboard
GRADE I † Saxon origins; DB as Aelfsige. Dedication unknown. Dated to C14 (BLB notes C13 chancel & porch). C19 restoration. Incumbents recorded from 1353. In a most attractive setting down a long path, and grouped with a large medieval tithe barn, dovecote &co. 8m E of Lewes, 6m W of Polegate. 50.8299 / 0.1369 / TQ505055
All 4 dials are cut on either side of the blocked S doorway of the nave. 1 LHS and 3 RHS, of which an adjacent pair are low down, almost at ground level.
On the L jamb of the blocked doorway, the most advanced and clearest of the 4 dials. Mid-C15? Encircled, with a full cross of vertical (12-12) and horizontal (6-6) lines emphasised by deeper incision. The lower half has 6 additional lines (and hints of a couple more). A single line UR quadrant divides it fairly accurately. The gnomon hole is (now) rather large for the size of the dial but that may have happened in the course of its history.
RHS of the doorway, the same height as Dial 1. A much simpler dial with 2 lines only. The worn circle contains just 2 lines LLQ, one faint and the other deeper cut. Possibly the faint line was originally the marker for Mass, and was superseded by a more visible line (hand-cut without a rule, it would seem).
Alciston Church . E Sussex – Scratch Dial 2
DIALS 3 & 4
Just above ground level are 2 enjoyable dials on the same stone, presumably re-sited from a more visible position. However the stone sits comfortably with the overall design of the doorway, so I wonder whether all the dials (or those RHS) were moved to their present position when the doorway was blocked / during restoration?
The dials are adjacent – in fact, contiguous. Both circles are endearingly wonky, though the lines are cleanly cut. Dial 3 has been more carefully incised, with some attention paid to accuracy. Dial 4 probably came first and the more sophisticated Dial 3 later replaced it.
Dial 3 has 2 small dotted crosses within its circumference, also suggesting a later date than Dial 4. One cross consists of 4 separate dots; the other has the dots connected by lines (the vertical is very faint).
Alciston Church . E Sussex – Scratch Dial 3 & 4
DIALS 2, 3, and 4 as a group
Alciston is one of several rewarding churches in the area for a visit. You could combine it with climbing Firle Beacon which, at a height of 217m, counts as a Marilyn.
Frederick Barrett – Sussex Archaeological Collections 100 1962
GRADE I † C12 with earlier origins; chancel & tower C13. Spiritual home of the Gage family of Firle Place, with fine memorials to the family; also close connections with the Charleston set. Good brasses, work by modern artists. St Peter has 2 dials. 5m E of Lewes. 50.845 / 0.0884 / TQ471071
This dial was recorded (1993) as located on a quoin stone on the W side of the N porch and repositioned at some time in its history. Since then, in 2018, the N door has been incorporated in an extension for a loo and related purposes. It is very well done but from the outside there is now no access to the old doorway. The dial must be reached from inside the church, where in the new annex the dial can be seen RHS of the original N door. Commendably, the dial is behind a small perspex screen to protect it, but not directly over it – a thoughtful way to display and conserve a small piece of history.
BSS notes the dial as repositioned, eroded, damaged and it was deemed a rudimentary (Norman) dial. The only marks detectable now are the faint remnants of a circle among the blotches of lichen.
Located on the E-facing wall of the S doorway, and obviously re-sited at some stage to be of any use. A clean straight hole in the centre of the stone but even close to, no lines or dots now visible. I am pretty certain it is / was a dial, but some might call it doubtful. The stone is quite frangible amid the flint, and erosion over the centuries was perhaps inevitable.
GRADE I † C12 origins; gradual development C13 on, with later restorations C15 / C16. S porch (where the dials are) added C16, with earlier material reused. 8m SW of Dorchester. 50.6709 / -2.5638 / SY602858
St Peter has 4 scratch dials, 3 on the E side of the S porch, 1 on the W side. One of my nemesis churches. I have visited in rain, in cloud, and in sunshine. Of the cluster of 3 on E side, I could only make out the obvious one. Eventually I managed to identify them from an enlarged photo. The BSS recorder’s diagram below gives an idea of the dials rather more clearly than my photos can.
Dial 1 is located on the E side of S porch. Five lines are noted in the BSS records, of which 3 are clear and reasonably accurate. The gnomon hole is in the mortar line, where the lines converge.
DIALS 2 & 3
Dial 2 is very basic, and would be easy to overlook. There are 2 faint lines, with the top part including the gnomon hole cemented over a damaged area.
Dial 3 is even less conspicuous: a faint wishbone shape, 2 (3?) lines, one with a pock at the end.
I would doubtless have passed over this pair; and even had I noticed them I would have discounted them in my amateur way.
Dial 4 is on the west side of the south porch, on an inner quoin stone. At first glance it might be taken for an area of damage. In fact it is a dial with 6 lines, 4 of which end in pocks. It was described many years ago as not very accurately laid out and the passage of time has not improved the situation.
GRADE I † C12 origins (nave, chancel), gradual expansion C13, C14 and C15; restoration 1889. Norman doorway with fine Tympanum (long predating the inscription 1698). Good C15 wall paintings.Very close to the estuary, perfect for a walk or a bird-watch. 6m W of Lyme Regis. 50.7142 / -3.0546 / SY256910
Three dials are recorded for St Michael. They are all similar and, unlike most multi-dial churches, their design give little sense of developing methods of marking the passage of the day.
Dial 1 is located on the E quoin stone of the transept, with the gnomon hole in the mortar line. There are 3 distinct radials, and a 4th that is a faint trace. BSS records include the comment Rescratched and false gnomon added.
The last record is dated 1994, since when the false gnomon has been removed. I have used an image from then; the dial is less easy to see now. The diagram below has a theoretical perimeter and time marks for a complete dial. The note no noon [line] is slightly surprising. Radial 3 looks vertical and possibly bifurcated in re-scratching.
Dial 2 is cut on the Chancel chapel, E end of the wall, on a quoin stone. There are 4 lines radiating from a filled gnomon hole in the mortar line
In close-up (below) it is just possible to see that line 3 (L to R) is longer than the others. That could suggest a noon line incised slightly off true vertical. If so, on this simple dial it might be a casual approach to the medieval daylight hours. On a later, more sophisticated dial, it might represent a way to achieve accuracy on a church that was not square on to the true SWNE footprint.
Also situated on the wall of the chancel chapel, and again radiating from the mortar line. BSS notes 4 lines, but 2 cannot now be detected. However the suggestion that noon is marked by double lines is plausible. This might be for emphasis (as with a terminal pock or cross); or because the vertical was re-scratched.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
Photos. Keith Salvesen; diagram and other material, BSS
I recently came across a very bad photo I took years ago of this elegant and ingenious dial in Magdalene College. My image is too awful to be the basis of a feature. However BSS has in its records this excellent quality photograph with a short account to accompany it.
A competition among first year engineering students led to the creation of this most striking double vertical dial, mounted in 1987 on the south-facing wall of Benson Court. It was designed by Will Carter in stone and stainless steel and features the motto: ‘Facilius inter philosophos quam inter horologia conveniet.’ (It is easier to gain agreement among philosophers than among timepieces – Seneca) The prize-winning design has the Equation of Time built into the gracefully curving hour lines. A spot of light shining through a pierced stainless steel sun marks the time on each dial.
‘Facilius inter philosophos quam inter horologia conveniet.’ (It is easier to gain agreement among philosophers than among timepieces – Seneca)
GSS Category: Vertical Dial; Double Dial; Modern Dial; Competition Dial
GRADE II* † Norman origins; rebuilding C15 & early C16; substantial restoration 1877. A church that repays one’s interest, with an intriguing Rood screen / reredos repositioning conundrum; and unusual chest tomb: on top lies the effigy of an emaciated cadaver partly covered by a shroudBLB. 14m E of Exeter, 5m W of Honiton. 50.7875 / -3.2659 / SY108994
St Andrew has 3 scratch dials, the most obvious being visible from the lych gate and as one approaches S porch. The other 2 dials, very close together, are remarkable and probably unique (certainly so as a pair). Dial 3 may be doubtful. An additional basic but dial-ish scratching is shown below, as are various other church marks including a good example of a Consecration cross.
Dial 1 on the porch buttress is a straightforward design and easy to make out, but damaged and cement patched UR. There are 13 lines, some now very faint. The angles are more or less accurate at 15º. The vertical / noon line is not emphasised in any way, which is slightly unusual. The main Mass was presumably Terce, marked with a deeper cut line LHS. The gnomon hole has been filled with a rather well-chosen rounded arrow design; it is modern yet respectful of its purpose.
Dials 2 & 3 are adjacent low down on the same porch buttress as Dial 1. It is a remarkable juxtaposition. BSS suggests they are early dials – pre-1400?
Dial 2 consists of a pattern of pocks contained within what could be termed geometrically as the major segment of a circle. The horizontal line is incised more deeply. BSS suggests that 13 pocks are identifiably associated with the dial, with a few random ones besides. The quite shallow gnomon hole in such a small design presumably contained a stud rather than a rod.
A noon line is seemingly marked by the sightly offset double pocks just R of the vertical. Theres’s also a very small pock directly above the gnomon hole, conceivably a decorative-use-only marker for midnight and symmetry.
Dial 3 The BSS entry for this little configuration of dots describes a semi-circle of 8 pocks, with other associated pocks and no obvious gnomon hole. It concludes closely related to dial no. 2, possibly never used as a dial.
Perhaps it is not a dial at all. The rather untidy part-circle curves away NE after noon – pointlessly, if part of a dial. BSS notes that there is no central style hole. There is a single pock inside the perimeter that might have held a stud – but unlikely to be much use in that position. Some might suspect unserious pattern-copying efforts along the lines of Dial 2.
My amateur reading of this buttress as a whole is firstly, that the low stone on which Dials 2 & 3 are located is not its original location. At some stage during all the rebuilding and restoration over the centuries it was re-sited. The little dial that ‘worked’ was then too low and would anyway have been an obsolete design. It was therefore superseded by a far larger, more modern (? mid C16) and very visible dial, accurately cut and ideal for marking the passage of the day for a larger, better educated community in a more modern era. Comparatively.
Both lines seem deliberately scratched. One is approximately vertical, the other could mark the Mass time Terce (cf Dial 1). The lines diverge from the mortar line, as do many simple dials – it means not having to drill a dial gnomon into stone. I have seen less convincing 2-line versions that have been recorded as dials. I am slightly in favour of it being a dial.
This is a good example of a rural consecration cross, incised on a buttress between 2 windows. From a distance the design might mislead and be seen as four petals, rather than a compass drawn cross. There are hints of an outer circle. This is a fairly common type of cross, but good see one that is relatively unworn. The four distinct quarters rule out ID as a protective hexfoil, although there is a similarity.
Graffiti on two adjacent stones, one example dated ?1675
This is very likely a ritual protection mark / apotropaic symbol designed both to prevent evil from entering the church, and to repel it. For that reason they are most often found inside or near porches. I haven’t encountered the pattern below before, but a group of dots with some joined by deep cut lines is a commonly found design – see an example from Dorset below.