St Andrew . Rockbourne . Hants


GRADE I † C12 cruciform church enlarged C13 and thereafter. Small timber bell turret added C17. Victorian restoration 1893 (CE Ponting), with addition of porch. Set into an alarmingly steep hillside, with a considerable drop for the unwary. Approached by a now-rare permissive path through private property. Currently (2022) there are building works, with the W end under wraps. 10 miles S of Salisbury. 50.9642 / -1.8368 / SU115183


St Andrew has one dial, prominently situated on the buttress of the S chapel and best seen from quite high up the slope. ARG visited in 1923, describing it as very distinct. C15.

St Andrew . Rockbourne . Hants – scratch dial

ARG recorded 13 lines in a semicircle, each ending in a pock, with the angles (almost) equidistant. He noted that the lines are all in the lower half, but does not mention the interesting tilt of the dial, the purpose of which is unclear. Perhaps an adjustment of angle to allow for the slope (as it was in C15 when the dial was cut) and achieve greater accuracy? The large gnomon hole is blocked with a cement plug.

Looked at closely there is a 14th line also with a dot, fainter than the rest, on the upper right side, squeezed in between the clearer top two lines. There are 2 or 3 additional dots that form part of the circumference and possibly were at the end of fainter lines now eroded. Overall, a medieval dial that is less straightforward than it appears at first.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants


GRADE II* † C12 origins then C13 and C14 addition and rebuilding. Much C19 work inc. rebuilding tower & S porch. A most attractive long low church with timber belfry and spire. A rewarding church to explore: see BHO. 3m S of Stockbridge; 7m N of Romsey. 51.077 /  -1.4872 / SU360309


There are 4 dials recorded for the church, but only 3 are visible. The 4th seems now to be concealed behind a boiler. The 3 visible dials are all on the jambs of a S nave window. ARG notes that the window was inserted into an old doorway All are inverted, presumably during the 1880 restoration. Maybe this links up with the rebuilding of the S porch and relocation of stones originally there (a more obvious position). BHO notes various window alterations and the movement of stones incised with ornamental crosses and inscriptions… the stones have unfortunately been reset upside down.

St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – 3 scratch dials


Dial 1 is inverted on the L jamb. LHS and below, the style hole is badly damaged. Otherwise, the 12 lines are more or less clear, with differing lengths and angles. There is a trace of a semicircle, marked by perimeter pocks. The noon line is considerably elongated and, with 1, has larger perimeter pocks. 1 also has a short extension of 4 dots, perhaps to emphasise a service significant to this church or community.

DIALS 2 & 3

St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – Scratch Dials 2 & 3

Both dials are on the R jamb, inverted, on the same stone, and actually touching. Unusually (perhaps very rare) both are complete circles with 24-hour marking. Dial 2 has 24 radials; Dial 3 has 24 pocks.

Dial 2 is encircled and imaginatively decorative, with radials for a full 24 hours. The spacing is somewhat random. The style hole is quite deep, and obviously enlarged. The (upside-down) noon line is deeper cut, as are 10, & 11. So too is 1, which is also extended with 2 pocks. This corresponds with Dial 1 and seems to confirm that some importance was attached to that time of day.

St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 3 is also a complete circle, with a small style hole. It is eroded, with only the (upwards) noon line and a couple of fainter lines clear. Most of the daylight hours are marked by pocks on the circumference; close examination has shown that in fact there are 24 pocks. It appears as if squeezed into the space between the upper stone and the lower edge of the stone

St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants – Scratch Dials 2 & 3

BSS drawing of dial 3


Dial 4 is located on the SE quoin stone of the Chancel. The record indicates that it has 12 lines, mostly curved, and 2 above the horizontal. BSS notes Position is obscured by a hut containing an oil tank. So much so that I couldn’t find it at all. I intend to try again next time I’m in the area – perhaps taking a torch.

ARG in 1923 recorded that the dial consisted of a circle with 10 lines in the lower half, 5 of which end in pocks; and 2 lines in the upper half. None of the lines are straight; most are distinctly curved. Sadly, although he photographed dials 2 & 3, he did not take dial 4.

St Peter & St Paul . Kings Somborne . Hants

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen