GRADE I † C12, C13, C15; C19 restoration. A pretty church with a 4-stage tower and short steeple, close by the Kennet & Avon canal. No discernible scratch dials though a likely-looking location. A single vertical dial, angled. 7 miles W of Hungerford. 51.3941 / -1.5828 / SU291661
The dial is high up on a SE facing buttress, with an iron gnomon set into the stone. It has an S-shaped support. The face is completely plain, with no evidence of numbers, lines or a frame. Possibly it was originally painted. Hard to date, though the gnomon is plainly not original.
Using a different camera sheds another light on the dial* and confirms the absence of markings
*and demonstrates how 2 cameras, used at the same time, tell different stories
Passing through Wilton on a tedious A30 journey, I paused to visit St Mary**, a partial ruin in the historical Market Place in the centre of the town. On the E side of the churchyard was a tall monument. On closer inspection it turned out to be large multiple dial, badly eroded and damaged. And as with cube dials, it is rarely possibly to get clear shots of every side of a multiple dial. Later investigation revealed much more of interest, considered below.
BLB dates the structure pre-C18. It is hard to imagine how the dial must have looked originally, or the shape of the various elements, or the location and angles devised for the metal gnomons. There appear to be 6 scaphe dials, and plenty of angles for casting shadows. It’s hard to read much more than that. Fortunately BSS has records of the fine dial at Moccas, Herefs for comparison. It has a broadly similar design, and is in superb condition.
In a way, though, the dilapidation of the Wilton multiple dial goes rather pleasingly with the ruins of the adjacent church.
In due course I researched the dial in more detail, discovering that it had at times been known as County Cross. The informative BLB entry makes it clear that there is much more to the structure than its function as a sundial.
Grade IIPre-C18. An undatable jumble of forms in stone. The octagonal base with 4 seats is probably mediaeval (it is illustrated in a drawing of Wilton done circa 1568), possibly also the square pillar above this. The upper parts are probably C17 and include a heavily sculpted block, possibly a cross or more probably a sundial on corner cannon balls with above, also on corner cannon balls, a moulded base for the C17 godrooned vase which caps this structure.
A print of St Mary by Kershaw & sons (active 1850-80) offers a rather idealised version of the Cross / sundial.
**ST MARY’S CHURCH . WILTON
The remains of the C15 church of St Mary are in the historic Market Place in the centre of Wilton. Listed Grade II*, it was declared redundant in 1972 and is in the care of CCT. Only the chancel, part of the nave, and 3 arcade arches are left. It is an attractive grouping. Not to be confused with the very fine C19 ‘Italianate Church’ on the A30 to the West. 51.0801 / -1.8628 / SU097312
GSS Category: Multiple Dial; Scaphe Dial
Photos: Keith Salvesen; Moccas archive BSS; RarePrints
GRADE I † Pre-conquest origins. Significant Saxon features. Splendid Norman doorway. C12 font. Development C12 et seq, with C19 restoration. Archaeologically uncommonly interestingPEV; inc. by Simon Jenkins. BLB Listing. 51.4286 / -1.8579 / SU099699
The vertical dial is below the parapet, L of the porch. From a distance, the only distinct marking on the face is a faint square frame for the dial. Closer examination reveals at least the ‘X’ of noon. The footing of the gnomon is in a badly damaged area. Most notably, the dial is at a canted angle so that it faces south. Hard to date – there’s no clue in the usual resources. C18 perhaps, esp. as roman numerals were used?