PEMBRIDGE . HEREFS . ST MARY – 6 Scratch Dials

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs

ST MARY . PEMBRIDGE . HEREFS

GRADE I † C12 and C13 origins on Norman site; nave, transepts and chancel arch rebuilt during early C14; N porch added late C14. Restorations 1871 and 1903-1909. Large and impressive (PEV). Fine interior, monuments, glass. Of equal note, the wonderful detached belfry with its hint of nordic influence – not to be missed. I have included a few images and notes at the end of this article. 52.2173 /  -2.8929 / SO390580

DIALS

St Mary merits a collective noun for its dials. A confusion? There are obvious dials, plausible dials, doubtful dials, and 1 or 2 not previously noted as far as I can make out. On my visit I wasn’t equipped with details of dials I might expect to see, and I simply recorded the ones I found. All are on the S wall, starting from the W end. There are some differences from the BSS records.

DIAL 1

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is a straightforward design among an attractive arrangement of stones. 7 lines, a couple emphasised, some faintly extended, hole in the mortar line.

DIALS 2 & 3

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dials 2 & 3

Dial 2 is the most interesting of them all, with its double square surround. There are 13 lines, spaced approximately evenly. Some of extend into or beyond the boxes, a couple are above the horizontal. BSS describes the dial as unique and suggests that it appears to be an attempt to follow the pattern for a sundial, but no evidence of sloping gnomon. The conclusion: a very mysterious dial.

Dial 3 is similar to dial 1, with 6 lines radiating from quite a deep hole where the stone meets the mortar line.

DIAL 4

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 4

Dial 4 is small and unobtrusive, just L of the doorway. The style hole is (slightly oddly?) in the top L corner rather than more prominently nearer the centre of the stone. There are 2 slender but clear lines, and 3 (4?) faint lines L of them.

DIAL 5

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 5

Dial 5 is below and to the left of dial 4. It is the most insect-like pattern I have come across – a line drawing might resemble a daddy-longlegs / cranefly. No line is straight, but within the wide variations in dial design and accuracy it would probably have served its purpose marking the passing hours. Unless it really is a carving of a cranefly…

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 5

DIAL 6

St Mary . Pembridge . Herefs – Scratch Dial 6

On darker stone and in shadow on a buttress, it would be easy to miss this dial. If it is one. At the time, I thought it was; and looking weeks later at the photos I still think so, just a noon line and what could be a Mass line.

DIAL CANDIDATES

BSS has a record of 2 dials that I didn’t notice

Here is a candidate for consideration. Two almost parallel lines that look deliberately scratched drop vertically down from an arguable style hole. I have come across a couple of similar dials – though each had some lines – where the vertical (noon line) was emphasised by being the space between two lines.

ST MARY PEMBRIDGE: C13 BELFRY

PEV (Herefs p 542) considers this bell tower remarkable, and points out its structural relationship with Norway’s Stave Churches and Sweden’s Bell Houses. He dates it early C13, with later reconstructed in C17.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Belfry; Bell House

All photo, Keith Salvesen; diagrams BSS

KINGTON . HEREFORD . ST MARY – 6 Scratch Dials

Kington Herefs St Mary (Ruth Harris CC)

ST MARY . KINGTON . HEREFORDSHIRE

GRADE I † Dated from c1300, with a C12 tower that was originally separate, later incorporated when the church was extended and (BLB) much altered. Attractively distinctive to look at. 15m W of Leominster. 52.2045 / -3.0384 / SO29156

DIALS

St Mary is a multi-dial church with 6 recorded, one of which is doubtful. They range from conventional to basic. 3 are clustered on adjacent stones.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on the S wall, a fan-shaped edged quadrant radiating from the mortar line and stretching across 3 stones. It is near-symmetrical along the noon line. The 5 lines are spaced almost equally, the outer ones being incised more deeply, perhaps to draw attention to service times. The ‘1’ line is of interest, less accurately cut, bifurcating as it crosses onto the stone below, and ending in a single pock. This feature is so specific that it was presumably intended to emphasise a time of day of particular significance in the local community.

DIAL 2

Dial 2, on the S wall, is far simpler than Dial 1 but is also near-symmetrical from the noon line. 3 lines, the one to the L more of a straight scratch than a cut. The style hole is in a fault line in the stone (which may well be subsequent damage). Possibly the ‘1’ line crudely divides halfway down, beginning with a pock. This would match the similar emphasis in Dial 1, and perhaps supports the theory of a special ‘event’ mark.

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is also located by the door on the S wall, very damaged and eroded. 4 clear lines radiate from a style hole in the mortar line (there are also 2 very faint lines). Only the uppermost in the lower R quadrant survives for its full length.

DIALS 4 & 5

Dials 4 & 5 are beside and below Dial 2. Both are faint and barely more than token efforts at a dial, as if a youthful assistant priest had a knife and time on his hands.

Kington Herefs St Mary – Dial 2, 4, 5

DIAL 6

Dial 6 is a very simple dial (if it is one): a style hole within a deeply cut circle, and what could be a stubby noon line. The close-up b&w BSS photograph gives a good idea of it. There’s not a lot of confidence in the record: Position not known. Noon line only? Circle only and faint line at 90L. Possible noon marker. Doubtful dial.

Richard & Catherine Boztum, in their excellent illustrated booklet (cited below) of Herefordshire Church marks and scratch dials include dials 1 – 5, but not this one.

Kington Herefs St Mary – Dial 6 – BSS

I also have my doubts. St Mary has plenty of Church graffiti – initials, scratchings, small crosses, and in particular a number of apotropaic symbols (ritual protection marks). The design of ‘Dial 6’ is one of many forms of ‘witch mark’. And on St Mary itself, there is a more elaborate version of the circle-and-centre-hole mark.

Kington Herefs St Mary – Apotropaic mark

OTHER CANDIDATES?

Having in mind the rather basic design of some of the dials above, there are a couple of candidates that I photographed for later inspection. The first is at least plausible and matches the noon line symmetry of dials 1 & 2. The other is unconvincing. You be the judge…

Kington Herefs St Mary – doubtful scratch dial

GSS Category: Scratch Dials; Multi-dials

Photos: Header image: Ruth Harris (Geograph / Wiki / CC); all other photos Keith Salvesen except dial 6 BSS

REF: Botzum R and C : Scratch Dials, Sundials and unusual Marks on Herefordshire Churches. Lucton, Herefs, 1988

EARDISLAND . HEREFORD . ST MARY THE VIRGIN – 2 Scratch Dials

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire

GRADE II*. C12 origins, C13 with C14 additions (chancel, S. porch); tower rebuilt mid C18 after a collapse; Victorian restoration. Much of the medieval church in evidence. External and internal masons’ marks, graffiti etc. A pretty village on the R. Arrow, on the ‘Black & White Village Trail’ 52.2218 / -2.8497 / SO420585

DIAL 1

On the R. side of the S. porch, on the stone below the architrave. The stone below has marks that are probably apotropaic. 3 definite lines descending from the mortar line and through a slanting line that looks most like a fault in the stone – that may also apply to the 4th ridged line on the left side, or perhaps it was cut / added at a different time.

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2

Cut into the large quoin stone on R. side of the priest’s door and spanning its width. The dial has a relatively complex design, perhaps combining its practical purpose with decorative effect. Erosion has made interpretation difficult. The style hole, now a small cave, is in the mortar line. The lower R quadrant shows part of 3 concentric semi-circles. There’s a hint – best seen top L – that at least the inner circle line continued above the horizontal. There’s little other sign of a more complete circle.

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial 2

Erosion and lichen obscure the finer details. BSS records 7 lines but a close-up photo in sunlight reveals about a dozen, with possibly some shorter lines (half-hour marks?). There are also pocks, 2 or 3 of which could relate to the dial – in particular the 2 ‘terminal’ ones adjacent to the noon line just above the mortar.

St Mary the Virgin . Eardisland . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial 2

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BRAMPTON BRYAN . HEREFORD . ST BARNABAS – Scratch Dial

St Barnabas . Brampton Bryan . Herefordshire

GRADE 1. C14, earliest record for the site 1275. Largely destroyed in 1643 during the Civil War, as was the adjacent castle. Almost entirely rebuilt in 1656. Late C19 alterations and extensions. Much of interest including a triple hammerbeam roof. Most notable as a rare example of a church built (or rebuilt) during the Commonwealth. 52.3471 / -2.9255 / SO370725

DIAL

St Barnabas . Brampton Bryan . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial (Circle type)

The dial, a large circle, is on a short buttress under the E. window. There are few detectable marks, not least because of the lichen that covers most of it. The presumed style hole is basically a dimple in the centre. The present position – and indeed the history of the building – indicates relocation. It’s hard to say how useful it might originally have been, but it adds to the remnants of the church’s medieval past.

PLAUSIBLE ADDITIONAL DIAL (UNRECORDED)

To the right of the E. buttress on the E. end, there is a darker reddish stone, of a type seen elsewhere in the stonework, that caught my eye. There were 2 distinct long downward lines from an apex where there might credibly be a style hole. My photos don’t show the stone and markings as clearly as they looked to the eye. I immediately thought it was a probable dial. If so – given its position – the stone was undoubtedly relocated during reconstruction. I leave these images as food for thought. Comments are welcome.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen