All Saints . Rothbury . Northumberland (C of E Heritage Record / Dave Evans)


GRADE II* † On Pre-Conquest / Anglo-Saxon site. C13 / C14, rebuilding & restoration C19 in similar style. Located in Coquetdale with linked churches. 12m SW of Alnwick, close to NT Cragside. 55.309 /  -1.9106 / NU057016


There are 2 dissimilar scratch dials on the church, and an intriguing cube dial (shown below and will feature as a separate post in the Cube Dial section) on the ground in the Churchyard.


Located on the E-most buttress of the S wall of the chancel. Quite a large dial centred in its stone, with a blocked gnomon hole. There are 16 lines, encircled and fairly evenly spaced. This makes the dial out of kilter with the normal time interludes. BSS notes that instead of the 15º angles usual for this type of dial with 24 lines, they are more like 22º here.


Between the 2 E-most buttresses of the S wall of the chancel. Only 3 lines radiate from the filled gnomon hole (incomplete quadrant markings): the horizontals (6-to-6) and a shorter noon line. BSS notes that in 1903 a vertical line above the hole was recorded, and so the design once had 4 quarters / sectors. The dial is contained within a double circle.


The Parish of Upper Coquetdale has an interesting page about All Saints, its history, and its various features HERE

Pendulum Publications has an excellent and detailed article about the Rothbury Dials – including the C18 cube – HERE Highly recommended if you want to investigate this church and its dials further, and medieval ‘clocks’ generally. It was originally published in Clocks Magazine of November 1991.

All Saints . Rothbury . Northumberland – Keith Bates / Clocks Magazine 1991; Pendulum Publications

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; link to Cube Dial

Image Credits: Erika Clarkson for the photos from her visit; others as captioned

CHURCH STRETTON . SHROPSHIRE . ST LAURENCE – 2 scratch dials (unrecorded)

St Laurence . Church Stretton . Shropshire

GRADE 1. Church. C12 nave with C13 transepts, crossing and chancel; tower upper stage C15, vestry added 1831; transept aisles added 1868 in restoration; further restoration 1882 and 1932. Large and dignified PEV. Attractive small town and gateway to the remarkable and beautiful Long Mynd (518m). 52.5382 / -2.8088 / SO452936


St Laurence at first sight is clearly much expanded and restored over the centuries. Parts of a much earlier church are evident. The existence of any external decorative features such a scratch dial seemed highly unlikely*. However the stonework round the small doorway looked older, reused, possibly in its original configuration. It was certainly worth walking along the path to take a look.

St Laurence . Church Stretton . Shropshire – doorway with medieval stones and 2 scratch dials

On the W. side of the doorway is a single stone with 2 simple part-dials incised. Their edge positions show that 3 stones were originally involved, but no other stones round the doorway matched the patterns, nor had obvious cuts. So in fact the positions of the stones must have been altered. From what remains of the dials, it is hard to guess how they must have looked but presumably their style holes must have been in the mortar dividing the 3 stones. Possibly this stone is inverted.

The dials are unrecorded by BSS, and I can find no other reference. It is understandable that in their present state they attract little or no attention. Perhaps the moral for dial sleuths is that any church that has a ‘dial-y’ look is worth a quick investigation.

* If I had explored further, the church records mention exterior carvings including St Laurence holding a gridiron, and a rare sheela-na-gig, probably of Saxon date. 

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen