CHARLTON MUSGROVE . SOM . ST STEPHEN – Scratch Dials & Vertical Dial

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset

ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . SOMERSET

GRADE II* † C13 (with earlier record), gradual development. An attractively simple and harmonious country church. A slightly canted C20 vertical dial over the doorway (see below). Not an easy church to find – it is not where the signposts suggest (you may end up in Barrow). There’s a sign to St Stephen at the Wincanton end of the racecourse. 51.0678 /  -2.4008 / ST720299

DIALS

There is one scratch dial recorded for the church by DEH who visited in 1914, on LHS of the inner original doorway of the later added S porch. St Stephen is yet another S Somerset church, within a small radius, to have an inner dial. There is a second previously unrecorded dial, a completely different design, on the W side of the Priest’s door. The vertical dial is also shown below.

DIAL 1

DEH: This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 5 feet 6 inches above the floor, the noonline is 2 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is due s. Type 2. April 17th, 1914.

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is quite large and half hidden by a prayer board that I briefly relocated. It is cut on 2 stones, with the gnomon hole in the mortar line between them. It is encircled with a complete circumference, the upper half having neither radials or dots. The horizontal / mortar line / gnomon hole must have been damaged, with later extensive repair across the middle of the dial.

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset – Dial 1

There are only 4 visible lines, none straight (in contrast with the accurate circle). The angles are roughly equal. The 2 a.m. lines (L of the noon line) terminate on the circumference. The single p.m. line extends some way beyond the circle; the noon line much more so, plunging downwards almost to the stone below. This feature is found even more dramatically at HOLTON 4m W

DIAL 2

St Stephen . Charlton Musgrove . Somerset – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is on W side of the priest’s door and features a ring of pocks with no lines at all. Judging from the position of the style hole in the centre (approx) of the dial stone, and the curvature of the dots, the dial was presumably a complete circle originally. The upper L quadrant must have been damaged at some time and at some stage replaced by the smaller stone, with additional mortar to make the fit. Most of the dots are quite clear, a few are not: certainly 12, possibly a couple more.

DOUBTFUL DIALS

The first pattern below is on the E side of the Priest’s door, at the same height as Dial 2. It would not be unusual to have this arrangement. It is in some ways dial-ish but I can’t take it further. I tried inverting (reverting?) the image but to no great effect. The second scratching was worth a closer look and although I’ve seen similar ones counted as dials, this one isn’t very plausible.

ST STEPHEN . CHARLTON MUSGROVE . VERTICAL DIAL

A modern dial dated 1916 set into the apex of the porch with the inscription Vigilate et Orate (Watch and Pray). The dial shows hours, half-hours, and quarter-hours. Each hour line ends in a small arrowhead. The dial stone is slightly canted and the footing of the gnomon is on the 11 line for accuracy. The noon line is emphasised with a deeper incision.

TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch / Transitional Dial

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset

ST MARY . TARRANT GUNVILLE . DORSET

GRADE II* † Mainly C14, tower C15. C12 vestiges of earlier church. General C19 restorations including by T H Wyatt. A slightly unharmonious impression reflects the changes. Roughly midway between Shaftsbury to NW & Blandford to SW. 50.9135 /  -2.1078 / ST925126

DIAL

A single dial on S porch E of doorway. GLP calls it a remarkable dial, somewhat damaged. Its perplexing design has provoked several theories. The most straightforward is that it is in fact a transitional dial rather than a true scratch dial. BHO notes: Scratch Dial: on S. wall of porch, with black-letter numerals and stump of iron gnomon, early 16th century, which is probably meant generically rather than specifically. GLP, with his compendious knowledge of Dorset dials, dates this one much earlier, late C14.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – porch

The dial stone is far larger than any other porch stone and seems out of place. The first impression is of a large dial doubly encircled but with the upper half damaged and eroded over the centuries. GLP suggests remnants of large dial with all hour lines marked. The fact that the gnomon hole – still with the stub of an iron rod – is almost exactly at the centre of the dial stone supports the theory of an originally complete circular dial rather than partial arcs. In the upper L quadrant there are hints of double circumference lines continuing upwards.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

LINES & POCKS

The details of the dial are intriguing. There are 10 lines leading to numerals carved in blackletter / Gothic form. Legible numbers run from 5am to noon, then there are 2 lines with eroded numerals. There is a plausible very faint near-horizontal line RHS. Hours 9, 10, 11, & 12 are marked with a cross rather than the roman numeral X (see diagram below).

There are also 5 pocks. 4 decorate the noon line. 1 is halfway down the 11 line which is nearly vertical, indicating (I think) that the dial was cut to take account of the orientation of the wall.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GNOMON

Unusually, the dial has the stump of an iron gnomon. It seems unlikely to be original and looks more square than round (cf GLANVILLES WOOTTON , also in Dorset). Whether original or not, there is no way of telling how (if at all) it was angled.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Dorset – scratch / transitional dial

GLP suggests that the dial may be an interesting transitional dial and notes that it would probably not have been accurate. One theory is that this was a horizontal dial set vertically; or with a horizontal design used for this vertical dial. He concludes that it is as much a decorative feature as a real timekeeper. My query is whether C14 dials were sophisticated enough to be making the transition from basic scratch to accurate scientific dials.

St Mary . Tarrant Gunville . Scratch / Transitional Dial

GSS Category: scratch dial; transitional dial; vertical dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; dial diagram BSS / GLP

ROCKBOURNE . HANTS . ST ANDREW – Scratch Dial

St Andrew . Rockbourne . Hants

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

DIAL

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

TATENHILL . STAFFS . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – 2 Scratch Dials

St Michael . Tatenhill . Staffs

ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS . TATENHILL . STAFFS

GRADE II* † C13 core, much enlarged C15 inc addition of tower. Restoration late C19 (Bodley). An attractive mixed sandstone church typical of the region. 5m SW of Burton-on-Trent. 52.7959 / -1.6967 / SK205220

DIALS

There are 2 dials on the S side of the church, both close to nave windows. Dial 1 is already recorded; I can find no reference to dial 2.

DIAL 1

A simple circle dial with a style hole that has been enlarged at some time (quite recently by the look of it). There is a noon line, with lines for 11, 1, and 2 either side. The dial has a pleasing greenish coloration.

Tatenhall . Scratch Dial . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 has 3 distinct lines radiating directly from the style hole. 2 terminate in dots. There’s no doubt that this is a scratch dial. There are other dots, apparently deliberately made, that may roughly mark a circumference but it’s hard to tell.

Because of the configuration of the dots I wondered – if the stone was relocated at some time – how the dial would look if rotated 90º. There’d be an emphatic noon pock below smaller pocks that might form a rough boundary. The 3 lines might then be markers for afternoon service(s). Maybe.

St Michael . Tatenhill . Staffs – Scratch Dial 2 rotated

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Erika Clarkson, with thanks again for her researches in Staffs

STOUR PROVOST . DORSET . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – 3 Scratch Dials

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset

GRADE I † C13 origins, gradual expansion to C16 – nave, tower, north aisle, chancel, south porch. General restoration first half of C19, further restoration later C19. A fine Dorset church in a lovely setting. 6m W of Shaftsbury. 50.9932 / -2.2948 / ST794215

DIALS

St Michael has 3 dials, all different in style and complexity. With the lengthy development of the church over 3 centuries, and subsequently 2 significant C19 restorations, not all may be in their original positions (for example dial 3 is nearly 3m from ground level). If moved, at least they remained the right way up.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is on W side of the S porch. The squared-off stone looks relocated – especially as the porch was a late (C16?) addition. There are 9 lines of varying length, with bad erosion in lower R quadrant.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 1

The dial is / was encircled but little of the circumference line remains. GLP notes that the noon line is marked with a pock where is meets the circle and that the dial is rather inaccurately laid out and the lines do not converge on a point.

Stour Provost . Dial 1 . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is on a quoin stone on the SW corner of the tower. 6 long lines radiate from the blocked gnomon hole to the lower L quadrant, in effect forming a ‘morning dial’. It is not accurate.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 2

The dial stone seems to match the others round it. Possibly it is in its original position, but it could have been moved as a block with similar stones either during the medieval period or (more probably) in C19.

Stour Provost . Dial 2 . BSS

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is quite high up on the S wall of the tower and difficult to examine closely. Luckily the lines, though lightly incised, are legible and the overall design is clear.

St Michael . Stour Provost . Dorset – scratch dial 3

The are 12 in all, with the noon line extending upwards from the style hole to the mortar line above. Unlike the other dials, GLP notes that this one is accurately laid out, suggesting that it may have been the last dial to be cut.

Stour Provost . Dial 3 . BSS

ACTUAL / PLAUSIBLE / DOUBTFUL / NOT

2 other stones caught my eye during my visit. Both are dial-ish and in appropriate locations. Which category do these fall into?

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Multi-dials

All photos: Keith Salvesen

TOLPUDDLE . DORSET . ST JOHN the EVANGELIST – 2 Scratch Dials

St John the Evangelist . Tolpuddle . Dorset

ST JOHN’S CHURCH . TOLPUDDLE . DORSET

GRADE I † A fine church with C12 origins, gradually enlarged C13 & C14. C19 restoration by T H Wyatt. BLB link. A village irrevocably associated with the 6 Martyrs, at least one of whom (James Hammett) lies in the churchyard. The tree where the Martyr’s met stands just outside the churchyard of St John the Baptist, on the main road through the village BE. 10m E of Dorchester. 50.7497 /  -2.298 /  SY790945

DIALS

Both dials are on the S transept wall, dial 1 being on a quoin stone and dial 2 being below a window. They are easily visible. GLP has some doubts about dial 2, explained below.

DIAL 1

St John the Evangelist . Tolpuddle . Dorset – scratch dial 1

Dial 1 is located on a quoin stone of the S transept, with the gnomon hole in the lower half. There are 6 detectible lines, 2 of which point upwards. In addition there are about 11 pocks, though it is hard to be sure of the exact number. The BSS recorded configuration shows 3 holes marking the horizontal, with the main cluster either side of the noon line, which is emphasised with 2 holes (as are 2 other lines). GLP notes the dial is very accurately laid out and no line is more than 1″ from its ideal position

Tolpuddle – BSS diagram

DIAL 2

This design cut just below a window on S wall looks decidedly dial-ish as a very simple way to record the passage of the day. There are no detectable lines or pocks, but a stick in the now-cemented style hole would have served some purpose. The circle was perhaps to attract attention and / or highlight the shadow cast. This minimalist approach is not especially rare: for example there’s a similarly-sized slightly more elaborate dial at HAZELBURY BRYAN.

GLP calls it a dubious dial, and suggests that it would work if hour lines were marked in some other way, possibly with paint. It is not included in the BSS record for Tolpuddle

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

ST RÉMY DU VAL . SARTHE . NORMANDY . FRANCE – St Rémy et St Rigomer

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.

DIAL

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)

SMALL DIAL?

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

PUDDLETOWN . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN – ‘Ammonite’ Scratch Dial

St Mary . Puddletown . Dorset

ST MARY . PUDDLETOWN . DORSET

GRADE 1 † C12 Norman origins, mostly enlarged and rebuilt C13 -C15 with relatively little remaining of the earlier church. One of several ‘Puddle’ villages in the Piddle valley, each of considerable merit. St Mary is of exceptional interest for its furnishings and monuments (RCHM Dorset Vol III), including a C12 font. Atmospheric interior; like a Dickensian law court (SJ 1000 *** p.159). 50.7483 / -2.3433 / SY758943

DIAL

St Mary . Puddletown . Dorset – scratch dial

From a distance the dial of St Mary might easily be taken for an ammonite, especially as the church is only 20 miles from the famed Jurassic Coast. It is located on the E buttress W of the S chapel, on the L side of a large quoin stone. This is a very crudely cut dial (GLP) with 13 rather randomly cut lines extending from a now-filled gnomon hole. Its position and condition suggest that it was relocated during rebuilding or restoration. The left side is badly damaged: it would be interesting to know how it originally looked when intact.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith salvesen

LODERS . DORSET . ST MARY MAGDALENE – Scratch Dial

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . Dorset

GRADE I † C12 origins, C13 nave, C14 tower & S porch; seemingly no C19 makeover. Plenty of interest to admire here – see entry in HE. 3m NE of Bridport. 50.7458 / -2.7225 / SY491942

DIALS

St Mary has 2 dials, both on the E side of the porch (late C14). Dial 1 is easily visible on the jamb. Dial 2 is tucked into a corner on the angle formed by the S wall and a staircase that was added C15. After that addition, Dial 2 was probably little use before noon (if at all).

DIAL 1

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is a good example of the interface between the simple dial function of marking the hours, and decorative design. This is a lovely and ambitious 24-hour dial, with 19 lines and 26 pocks. Although considerably eroded, it intricacies remain clear. There are radial variations of angle, length and emphasis. There are single pocks, double pocks, half-way pocks. GLP notes that the dial is quite accurately laid out and seems to mark most of the hours and some of the half hours as well

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . BSS

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is badly degraded, I suspect rather more so than when last surveyed. 3 lines emerge(d) from a gnomon hole in the dial stone. An amateur (me) would be unlikely to give it a second glance, especially in that position. In its present state it no longer matches the drawing originally made. Or I have made an ID mistake (quite possible)? GLP describes it as a very fragmentary inverted dial. Which perhaps suggests that the stone was moved / turned when the staircase was built. Or, possibly, it was a dial stone used from elsewhere on the building and intentionally inverted (as often the way with moved dials).

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . BSS

St Mary Magdalene . Loders . Dorset – Scratch Dials 1 & 2

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