TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch / Transitional Dial

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset

ST MARY . TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET

GRADE II* † Mainly C14, tower C15. C12 vestiges of earlier church. General C19 restorations including by T H Wyatt. A slightly unharmonious impression reflects the changes. Roughly midway between Shaftsbury to NW & Blandford to SW. 50.9135 /  -2.1078 / ST925126

DIAL

A single dial on S porch E of doorway. GLP calls it a remarkable dial, somewhat damaged. Its perplexing design has provoked several theories. The most straightforward is that it is in fact a transitional dial rather than a true scratch dial. BHO notes: Scratch Dial: on S. wall of porch, with black-letter numerals and stump of iron gnomon, early 16th century, which is probably meant generically rather than specifically. GLP, with his compendious knowledge of Dorset dials, dates this one much earlier, late C14.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – porch

The dial stone is far larger than any other porch stone and seems out of place. The first impression is of a large dial doubly encircled but with the upper half damaged and eroded over the centuries. GLP suggests remnants of large dial with all hour lines marked. The fact that the gnomon hole – still with the stub of an iron rod – is almost exactly at the centre of the dial stone supports the theory of an originally complete circular dial rather than partial arcs. In the upper L quadrant there are hints of double circumference lines continuing upwards.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

LINES & POCKS

The details of the dial are intriguing. There are 10 lines leading to numerals carved in blackletter / Gothic form. Legible numbers run from 5am to noon, then there are 2 lines with eroded numerals. There is a plausible very faint near-horizontal line RHS. Hours 9, 10, 11, & 12 are marked with a cross rather than the roman numeral X (see diagram below).

There are also 5 pocks. 4 decorate the noon line. 1 is halfway down the 11 line which is nearly vertical, indicating (I think) that the dial was cut to take account of the orientation of the wall.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GNOMON

Unusually, the dial has the stump of an iron gnomon. It seems unlikely to be original and looks more square than round (cf GLANVILLES WOOTTON , also in Dorset). Whether original or not, there is no way of telling how (if at all) it was angled.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GLP suggests that the dial may be an interesting transitional dial and notes that it would probably not have been accurate. One theory is that this was a horizontal dial set vertically; or with a horizontal design used for this vertical dial. He concludes that it is as much a decorative feature as a real timekeeper. My query is whether C14 dials were sophisticated enough to be making the transition from basic scratch to accurate scientific dials.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Scratch / Transitional Dial

GSS Category: scratch dial; transitional dial; vertical dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; dial diagram BSS / GLP

SIXPENNY HANDLEY . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial(s)

St Mary . Sixpenny Handley . Dorset

ST MARY . SIXPENNY HANDLEY . DORSET

GRADE II* † Chancel & porch early C14; some C15 & C18 work; remainder of church rebuilt 1877 (Crickmay). For more details (my visit having been curtailed) see St Mary Sixpenny Handley BHO. The village is halfway between Salisbury and Blandford. 50.9552 /  -2.0077 / ST995173

St Mary . Sixpenny Handley . Dorset – Scratch Dial

DIALS

There are two dials recorded for St Mary. I visited just after a funeral service had begun, and I paused for a circumspect and respectful moment at the chancel end of the church, where the dial featured here is situated. I took a couple of photos of the dial before stealing away. The other dial (not noted by GLP) is on the W side of the porch, and I will have to check it another time. Hence the header image is an archive postcard showing the church and its handsome lych gate instead of a photo of the church; and there is a diagram only of the porch dial.

DIAL 1

This large C14 dial looks out of place and seems clearly to have been relocated. The hamstone on which it is cut doesn’t match any others in the vicinity, and the dial is awkwardly angled with the presumed extended noon line some 15º from the vertical. An upper segment appears to be missing from the visible semicircle. There isn’t a definite gnomon hole and the 9 lines seem to radiate from a higher point than the edge of the stone, further suggesting a re-siting. 4 lines extend beyond the circumference. There is a trace of a cross at the end on the apparent ‘noon’ line and GLP notes that it may in fact be a Mass line rather a noon line. Overall he found the dial to be accurately cut.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is on the W side of the S porch, and the BSS record suggests it is not easy to make out. There is an arc of 7 pocks RHS, from noon on. Not having seen the dial, I am not sure how much else is now visible. I’ll have to time my next visit to the area with more care, and expand this article accordingly.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; Diagrams BSS & GLP