GRADE 1 † C14 origins, mainly C15 expansion; customary C19 work. A surprisingly large church for a small community hidden away in deepest (though not darkest) Dorset. Approached by lanes. The unusual name may derive from OE word ‘mapluldor’ (maple tree); shown as ‘Mapledre’ in DB*. 50.8528 / -2.3773 / ST735059
Located on the S wall near E window, a small single dial with 10 lines radiating from a fairly large style hole. C15. Of particular interest is that, most unusually, 2 of the lines meet at their outer ends (GLP) or even cross (BSS). The angled shot shows it best – and see diagram below. GLP suggests this arrangement roughly coincides with the Mass time Terce (9h) and may emphasise it, as a pock or a deeper cut radial might.
Mappowder . Dorset . St Peter & St Paul – Scratch Dial
GRADE 1. Late C13 / early C14 Decorated, C15 tower, restored 1864 & 1900. Set elegantly in a spacious and pleasant churchyard on the W. side of the Vale of Pewsey. Besides an excellent collection of dials, much else of interest – see BLB entry. 4m SE. of Devizes. 51.3148 / -1.9429 / SU040573
This is the second post about the 8 scratch dials of Urchfont. The first post for dials 1 – 4 can be found HERE. There is some duplication of general details so that this post can be read without cross-reference.
DIALS 5 – 8
A fine ‘multi-dial’ church. There are 8 (possibly 9) dials in all. 6 of these dials are recorded in the BSS register. Dials 5 & 6 are close together on the edge of E. side of the transept. Dials 7 & 8 are low down on adjacent buttresses on the Chancel wall. They are somewhat concealed by chest tombs and easy to miss.
DIALS 5 & 6
DIAL 5 has 10 distinct lines in additional to the horizontal in the mortar line, and a couple of ?line traces. The gnomon hole is within a larger filled area of (presumably) damage. An emphasised ?Mass line leads down to a crowed noon line area with a possible 1/2 hour radial. The dial seems truncated LHS and along the bottom edge, suggesting a relocation. However, RHS has 2 lines that sweep across into the adjacent stone, suggesting repair / restoration beside and below it.
DIAL 6 is a simple complete circle with a small style hole in the centre. Given that medieval dials marked the passage of the day and not ‘clock time’, this very basic type of dial may have been almost as helpful as later, more elaborate ones.
Dial 7 is located low on the middle S. facing Chancel buttress. A semicircle with a complete complement of lines around from the horizontal. Almost all end in pocks (2 in L. quadrant may be lost in the join with the adjacent stone). RHS is partly eroded from the faint noon line upwards. The symbol to the left may be a ritual protection / witch mark – too large for a mason’s mark.
Dial 8 is on the Chancel buttress E. of Dial 7, at the same low level. It is more rustic. Unusually, the dial, though quite small, was cut across 6 stones. Originally the circle was presumably complete, but damage top L and a relocated stone top R have removed the upper segment. The gnomon hole is notably off-centre. Perhaps odd that the dial wasn’t cut using the mortar line for the style hole and as the horizontal 6-to-6 line? Like Dial 7, a full complement of lines with pocks. There is a some graduation, but irregular.
The first is a deliberate pattern of pocks by a doorway – an obvious dial location – with a possible style hole in the mortar. There are similar short curved dot patterns elsewhere, eg Maiden Newton (Dorset). A plausible dial. The second dial is higher on the same buttress as Dial 8, a small hole with 2 apparently intentional lines just before and at noon. Doubtful, but I have seen rather less convincing patterns credited with dial status…
GRADE 1 † An exceptional Romanesque church built mid to late C12 (nave, tower, chancel) with later additions, restoration, and conservation. The Norman features dominate, especially the wonderful doorways. There’s too much history here (and in Iffley village) to distil: PEV should be the first stop, or BHO online Best of all, go there. SE. Oxford 51.7274 / -1.2382 / SP527034
St Mary has two dials, one conventional, and one of a most unusual type that I haven’t met before. In relation to Dial 1, it’s worth mentioning that in 2017 conservation architects oversaw “a programme of conservative repair to the exuberant Romanesque masonry of the church’s west front and south door. This included the application by stone conservators of a pigmented limewash, helping to preserve the stone and improve the overall legibility of the facade”.
Dial 1 is on the right side of the lovely S. doorway. It has 4 straight radials, 3 with terminal pocks. The noon line may have a second pock above the end one; there are perhaps other dots. The style hole in the join of the stones creates the horizontal line. The careful preservation methods noted above have to an extent made the dial hard to analyse in greater detail. Fortunately BSS has an archive image that predates recent work. Much more detail is evident; for example the pocks are clearer (and there are more of them). It makes for an interesting comparison.
DIAL 1 GALLERY
This highly unusual dial (if it is one at all) is on the S. side of the church, in the angle where the tower meets the nave. It consists of 4 incised parallel lines on a single stone. Just that. The passage of the day can be observed as the sun moves round, with the quoin acting as a vertical gnomon. The shadow cast moves gradually over the 4 lines from left to right, indicating the time of day. Its position suggests that it was primarily of use as a morning dial, perhaps signifying the Canonical hours for Mass. BSS records it as a ‘linear scale of markings from the wall shadow’.
The photos below give an idea of how the dial works in practice. I visited on a sunny day, but unfortunately at the wrong time of day to test the shadow theory. This dial is yet another that I need to revisit to understand it.
GRADE II* † C13 with C15 reworking and C19 restoration. Like nearby PODIMORE, a 4-stage tower with octagonal upper stages. One of several churches in the area with (unusually in such a close group) dials inside S. porch. A modern memorial horizontal sundial by Silas Higgon has an interesting plate (see below). Located S. of the A303, between Queen Camel and Cadbury Castle (a dominant hill fort nearby, and well worth the climb). 51.0226 / -2.5564 / ST610249
Another small and attractive church in the Yeovilton area, most of which have scratch dials. Like some of its neighbours, the dial of Holy Cross is located within the S. porch, a later addition. On his visit in 2014, DEHrecorded:
183. This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 3 feet 7 inches above the floor, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole, which is filled up, is in the solid stone and not in a joint. The aspect is s. by 20° E. Type 3. April 24th, 1914.DEH
The dial is scratched into a stone on RHS of the original doorway. The filled gnomon hole, near the centre of the stone, has 5 long lines descending. At some stage the porch has been whitewashed (as was often done cf WAYFORD), and paint traces remain evident on the dial and elsewhere in the porch (on graffiti and witch marks, for example).
As I understand it, 2 almost parallel vertical lines on dials like this were probably intended as the edges of an ‘absent’ noon line, with the true vertical midway between them as opposed to a line marker.
GRADE 1 † Late C13 / early C14 Decorated, C15 tower, restored 1864 & 1900. Set elegantly in a spacious and pleasant churchyard. Besides an excellent collection of dials, much else of interest – see BLB entry. 4m SE. of Devizes. 51.3148 / -1.9429 / SU040573
This fine church in an attractive village on the W. edge of the Vale of Pewsey is well worth a visit, not least (in the context of this site) because it is a ‘multi-dial’ church. There are 8 (possibly 9) dials in all, mostly easy to spot and rewarding to examine in detail. 6 of these dials are recorded in the BSS register. I have split them into 2 groups. The first 4, featured here, are all on the S. transept.
DIALS 1 – 4
Dials 1 – 4 are all close to each other on the S. face of the transept. Dials 1 – 3 are cut into quoin stones on the W. edge of the transept, nearest the porch. Two are close to each other; the third is higher up (I was fortunate to spot it). All 3 dials are marked mainly in the lower L. quadrant. Dial 4 is a quite different type, within a circle. Located immediately W. of the large transept window.
DIALS 1 & 2
DIAL 1 has 3 distinct lines and a trace at (roughly) 07. 11 is faintly extended. A partial (semi?) circle encloses the lines and the sector continues past the slightly offset noon line. There are 4 pocks that are part of the design, one a terminal dot. The shape of the style hole is (now) square, suggesting a later replacement (cf Glanvilles Wootton, which still has its square gnomon).
DIAL 2 has a large style hole drilled between the 2 stones that form the horizontal. There are 3 clear lines – the noon line extended – and possibly a couple of faint / eroded lines. Small pocks on the edge are dwarfed by a huge ‘mid-morning’ hole that was perhaps added later – or was a forthright call to Mass.
The third dial on the same quoin is much higher, and easy to miss. A large style hole with 3 clear-cut lines, the middle one extended and with a pock at the end. There’s a fainter line R. of the (slightly offset) noon line. Presumably, although the quoin as a whole seems uniform, the stone was relocated to its elevated position.
This is a pretty dial enclosed by a complete outer circle. The dial markings are enclosed within a very faint inner circle. There are 5 clear lines and traces of 3 or 4 others. There is no clear noon line, and overall the positions of the radials seem rather unusual.
Image 1 in the gallery below includes dials 1 -3 on their respective quoin stones, alongside dial 4.
DEDICATION † ST MARY – C12 nave and chancel; later additions include bellcote & S. porch
LISTING † Grade 1
LOCATION † North-west of Maiden Newton. A very small secluded Dorset hamlet (comprising Lower & Higher) with a handful of houses, a handsome ford, and 2 rushing feeder streams for the upper River Frome. 50.8054 / -2.6035 / ST575008
DIALS † ‘On S. wall of nave, remains of two scratch-dials, reused’ (BHO)
St Mary was one of the first churches I visited soon after I started this project nearly a year ago. I was just beginning to sort out the format and I had yet to discover the resources I later came to rely on. Taking the BHO entry (italics above) at face value, I looked for 2 dials, found them, and wrote them up HERE. Since then, I learnt of a third dial that I missed (GLP). After a recent revisit to check St Mary and photograph all 3 dials, I am replacing the original images of Dials 1 & 2, and featuring Dial 3 to complete the set.
All 3 dials are on the S. wall of the nave E. of the porch, quite close to each other. Dial 1 is on a quoin stone, with 4 lines descending from the mortar-line. The arrangement is haphazard. The lines aren’t straight, the two longer ones have split ends, the other two are shorter and almost parallel, the overall spacing seems completely random. It’s hard to see how useful such an endearingly wonky dial could have been.
Dial 2 is very low down, between Dial 1 and the porch. There are 4 lines, one very faint. The stone is at a slight angle and GLP suggests it may have been reused and – if slightly rotated – a vertical (noon) line might result.
This ‘new’ dial is also low down between the other 2, nearest Dial 1. It is inverted. There are 3 very clear lines of differing widths and depths, with the (upside down) noon line extending to the edge of the stone and ending in a (faint) cross noted by GLP. He mentions 6 lines (3 eroded) in all, and adds This dial would appear to record the Saxon ‘Tides’
GRADE II* † Late C12, C15, 1718, 1825 and much restored after fire in 1876 by A.J. Style BLB. A fine church in a small village close to PEWSEY and the Kennet & Avon canal. There is a vertical dial (1840) with a lengthy gnomon; and graffiti including witch marks. I was pleased to see a small memorial to my best friend from school, killed on army manoeuvres by an avalanche. 51.346 / -1.8003 / SU140607
The dial is on the SE. face of the end buttress W. of the porch. The style hole is prominent; the radials are faint and shallow scratched (and / or eroded). 8 are fairly clear, seen close to. The sector containing them is at an unusual angle of (roughly) 7.00 am to 8.00 pm. The obligatory drainpipe is close by.
GRADE I † C13 origins in simple form, with later additions of porch, nave and chancel. A pretty and unassuming small church adorned with a notable bell turret. BLB highlights a number of interesting features. Located between Yeovil and RNAS Yeovilton, close to several other good ‘dial’ churches. 50.9904 / -2.6267 / ST561214
The buttress where the nave joins the chancel is the focal point for 2 scratch dials, one above the other. The upper circle dial is pleasingly elaborate with ± 18 radials fanning out from the style hole, many ending in pocks. Because of erosion I can’t be sure, but given that the circle was evidently complete, I suspect the full 24 hours were once cut. The lines in the lower ‘morning’ quadrant are deeper cut. Some lines extended to the mortar. A very satisfactory dial for an amateur to find.
DEH visited St Vincent and other churches in the vicinity in May 1915. His field research primarily involved locating scratch dials throughout Somerset, taking meticulous but limited measurements of them, and making a general record, with occasional specific notes. As the pioneer of modern dial study, he was less concerned with the finer details we can now hope for, and he rarely included information about radials, pocks, angles and so on – nor put forward theories. Of Dial 1, he simply noted:
184. (1) This dial is on the second buttress e. of the s. porch. It is 6 feet 5 inches above the ground, the noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is nearly 2 inches in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 4.
DIALS 1 & 2
DEH185. (2) On the same buttress, 2 feet 3 1/2 inches lower down, is a second dial. The noonline is 3 inches in length, and the stylehole is 1/2 an inch deep. Type3. May 19th 1915.
He added the comment: The lower of these two dials may be only a copy of the one above, but it is badly weathered and it is difficult to judge. Puzzling, because this dial (to which DEH assigns a different Type) seems quite unlike its companion above. There are few discernible lines, and some are wholly or in part made up of pocks. It is much less ambitious and much more rustic. It almost seems that it was the first dial on the buttress, and Dial 1 was a much more artful improvement.
GRADE I † C14 with earlier C13 features -1st Rector recorded 1215 BLB; C15 work and later; C19 restoration. One of several good village churches with dials in the vicinity of RNAS Yeovilton. 50.9989 / -2.6546 / ST541223
South Somerset is unusual for the number for scratch dials located inside a (later added) S. porch beside the original doorway. Limington is one (see also BLACKFORD, for example). St Mary also has medieval graffiti and other marks in the porch, some shown in the images below. As often over the life of a church, walls were whitewashed so the paint flecks are not unusual. For a good example of an ‘internal’ porch still painted over, see WAYFORD.
NOTE: There are also 2 vertical dials, one above the other, on the S. buttress of the tower. In due course I’ll add a link to a separate post about them
DEH visited St Mary in May 1915 and noted that ‘the lines are sharp and clean cut’. He records:
197. (1) This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 11 inches above the floor, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is s. by 20° e. Type 2
DEH also found a second dial and, from his description, I missed it on my visit and walked straight past it. He records:
198. (2) This dial is on a buttress to the w. of the priest’s door. It is 5 feet 1 inch above the ground, the noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is 1/2 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15° e. Type 5c.
I took a rather bad photo of the buttress from a distance and can find no obvious dial. However I did find what may be an eroded and be-lichened dial on the angled buttress at the E. end, facing SE. There’s more than one part circle here. So this may be a third dial – or it doesn’t rank as a dial and (if he saw it) DEH discounted it. The latter, most likely. Limington is yet another church to revisit and check. I will amend accordingly.
GRADE II* † C15 tower, ‘earlier fragments’ BLB. Later church significantly restored mid C18 (‘unremarkable’). An early church made Gothic. Located N. of Yeovil, S. of the dreaded A303, an area with several good dial churches and some intriguing village names. 50.9974 / -2.6138 / ST570221
This buttress on the tower is not one to get too excited about. However, 2 stones caught my attention. The top eroded or damaged stone shows most of a semicircle. It does not appear to continue onto the stone below. The lower stone has – just below the mortar line – a similar very faint semicircle, with a more visible one underneath. To the left are some scratchings including a crescent.
One feature of this group is that the damaged stone may have been relocated; it doesn’t match those around it. Overall it is probably best to view these marks as doodles – using a nail and string? – more than dials. It is not recorded by DEH of BSS. All the same, it was worth taking a close look. Any views, positive or negative, welcome.