St Rémy et St Rigomer . St Rémy du Val . Normandy

St Rémy du Val is about 12m SE of Alençon, in a countryside of fields and forests. The church of St Rémy et St Rigomer stands high above the river Bienne, beside a now-ruined small castle. It has early origins but dates mainly from C15. The strong tower also had a defensive purpose. At some stage a small and attractive renaissance double doorway was added, a pleasing architectural contrast.


St Rémy et St Rigomer . St Rémy du Val . Normandy – scratch dial

The dial is located on the SW face of the buttress shown in the foreground of the header image. There is a definite tilt to this part of the church supported by the buttress, and to the adjacent buildings (the photo exaggerates it considerably).

I wasn’t expecting to find a dial (or even looking for one), and I was lucky to see such an unobtrusive example as we walked past. I later discovered that there is one other mention of it, and of a possible small dial close to it.

The dial is considerably eroded and quite badly damaged in the lower R quadrant. Close-to, its relative sophistication is evident. The radials are within a double circle and as far as one can tell do not overlap the inner circumference. Almost certainly the lines were incised all the way round the gnomon hole. There is a hint that in the lower half – or perhaps just the lower L quadrant – there are half-hour marks as well. Perhaps these details suggest a C16 dial.

St Rémy et St Rigomer . St Rémy du Val . Normandy – scratch dial (detail)


Michael Lalos, who runs a very good site for French sundials of all types, also found this small design. At first sight it doesn’t look very promising as a dial, and might perhaps be an apotropaic symbol. However in the last year I have found 2 or 3 very similar designs that in their context were most likely intended as dials.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen except the last pair, Michael Lalos


Eglise de Chavot-Courcourt . Epernay . Marne . Scratch Dial

LOCATION This handsome church is set scenically in the middle of extensive vineyards on all sides, a few miles south-east of Épernay. It is a notable distance from the nearest house. The church dates from 1202. The romanesque tower, nave, transept and apse were built later, around 1560. 49°00′16″N  3°55′50″E

DIAL The dial – which from a distance looks rustic – is in a prominent position carved into the stone lintel above the side-door, a very clear indicator of the progress of the day for the locals working in the fields. It is in excellent condition, perhaps thanks to its high location and to the clean air. The radials are spaced with some precision. A narrow double circle is supplemented by a less clear or eroded wider circle. There are several dots in plausible places; conversely, few if any dots on the rest of the lintel. My amateur guess is that the relative sophistication of the dial suggests that it was cut later than the date of the doorway. Any views on this are welcome – there’s a comment box below.

Eglise de Chavot-Courcourt . Epernay . Marne . Scratch Dial – close-up

GSS Category – Scratch Dial