All Saints . Houghton . Hants


GRADE II*. Early C12 origins, C13 aisles, C14 chancel, C15 alterations, 1875 and 1882 restorations BLB. One of several attractive villages on or close to the River Test. Houghton is midway between Stockbridge (N) and Romsey (S). Exploring locally – especially Mottisfont – is well worthwhile (nice pubs as well). 51.0922 / -1.5139 / SU341326

All Saints . Houghton . Hants – Scratch Dial 1


The dial is located on a quoin stone on the nave E. of the porch and ‘crudely cut’ BSS. There are 17 lines in all, some very eroded; and 3 pocks that are probably unrelated. The gnomon is of particular interest. For obvious reasons, discoveries of plausible remains of a gnomon are very scarce. BSS records (1994) that the stub of one was noted, the hole being otherwise filled. I did not notice the hint of a stub, and the photos suggest an intact mortar filling with a neatly rounded pock in the centre.


The dial is located low down on the SE. corner of the chancel. 4 lines, with the hole in the horizontal mortar line and filled. BSS records (1996) the dial as originally complete but with the right half replaced by another stone. The fact of a new quoin stone seems certain. The intriguing questions are what the dial might have looked like when complete; and whether the other half was used elsewhere on the exterior during any of the later additions and restorations.

I checked dial 1 on a fleeting evening visit, and didn’t look for another. The BSS image below suggests that the upper L quadrant, the horizontal mortar line where the lines converge, and the hole at the intersection might be worth investigating when I am next passing.

All Saints . Houghton . Hants – Scratch Dial 2

GSS Category – Scratch Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen except Dial 2, BSS records

KNIGHTON . POWYS . ST EDWARD – Scratch Dial (?)

St Edward . Knighton . Powys


GRADE II. ‘Victorian Gothic rebuilding of earlier church of which the medieval west tower is the only survival- no remains of 1752 Georgian rebuildBLB. A handsome reconstructed church in a pleasant town, well-situated on Offa’s Dyke close to the point where Powys meets Hereford and Shropshire. The only church dedication to St Edward in Wales – he, along with St Richard, seem to be somewhat overlooked across much of Britain. 52.3457 / -3.0477 / SO287724


The double rebuilding of a medieval church (except for its tower) must inevitably have expunged almost all traces of the early building, and with that its church marks. Or so you would think. Yet when I visited the church on a warm September evening in sunshine, I saw what – on a church with a different history – might be taken as a medieval pock dial. I realise that it is most unlikely. However, restoration and rebuilding does not preclude the reuse and / or relocation of stones from the original church. It was a common practice, for obvious reasons.

St Edward . Knighton . Powys – scratch dial?

There is no visible style hole. The curved pocked pattern seems intentional but – absent some architectural or decorative purpose – it is difficult to account for the design. Given the church history, claiming dial status is debatable. However I have seen far less convincing dials elsewhere. The stone fits with the church. Its location on the porch wall – perhaps intentionally during reconstruction – is appropriate. But probably I have an amateur dial collector’s over-optimism. Maybe this sort of find shows how intriguing the analysis of church marks can be.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen


St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts


GRADE I. Saxon origins. C11 Norman and later development inc. C12 nave, C13 aisles, C16 tower, C18 expansion, C19 restorations. An interesting church, with C12 Norman limestone font with suspended cover; and wonderful early C17 clock. Enjoy the Kennet & Avon canal while you are there. 51.3379 / -1.7664 / SU163598


The dial is on S. side of the chancel, on the E. quoin stone of E. end buttress. The appearance is of a classic 6-to-6 dial (not within a semicircle) on a lovely colourful stone. 11 clear lines (the 9 line is not visible – erosion? Omission of the Terce line seems unlikely). The longer 11 line extends to the mortar line below. 3 lines are emphasised inc. noon line. There are several pocks, a few at the end of lines – those at the ends of the horizontal must almost certainly part of the dial.

I wrote ‘appearance’ above, because looking closely at the photos, the dial is in fact slightly less straightforward. There are 2 faint lines and the hint of another in the upper right quadrant (see large image below).

St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts – Scratch Dial

DIAL 2? (unrecorded)

In several places on the outside walls there are groups of church marks and graffiti – initials, dates, apotropaic (witch) marks / Marian symbols. While photographing these I noticed a very small rustic dial scratched in the angle of wall and buttress on the S. side. I might have ignored it or classified it as ‘doubtful’, but the crude cuts in the stone running from the putative style hole suggest a casual dial attempt – possibly a trial run, and / or a contribution to the gallery of marks in this area.

GSS Catregory: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


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


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


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


Wentnor . Shropshire . St Michael and All Angels

Grade II*. Medieval origins, largely rebuilt using old materials in 1886. Some C12 details (small window, S. doorway). One of a number of hilltop churches in the region, and just W. of the Long Mynd. 2.5283 / -2.91 / SO383926

A scratch dial on this church is mentioned in TWC‘s county lists but not, as far as I can find, elsewhere. It seemed worth visiting as we were nearby. The only likely candidate I could find was in much the most likely location for a dial, to the left of the very early door and on the best stone (long before the porch was added). The configuration of the pocks suggest an afternoon dial marked from a (part-filled) style hole. It’s certainly a plausible candidate for TWC’s dial, and I could find no other. On balance, I’d rate it a probable more than a possible.

Wentnor . Shropshire . St Michael and All Angels – probable scratch dial as recorded by TWC

GSS Category – Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

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


St Peter Old Church . Stockbridge . Hants


GRADE II* . C12, later expansion until decay by C19 rendered it ‘unfit for public worship‘. Radical action was taken and the church demolished leaving only the chancel. The ‘new church’ was built in contemporary style on the High Street. Much of the old church was transferred to the new one (including a dial stone, to be featured another time). The old church is still in use and much of interest remains including Elizabethan wall paintings, early bells, and a C13 (or C12?) font. Also a medieval oak door carbon-dated to 1354. 51.1131 / -1.4876 / SU359349


The church information leaflet notes ‘…a Mass Clock ca. 1214 on the door jamb of the west door’. However such a precise date is arrived at, this is a striking example of an early dial and a most unusual one in being set in an approximate rectangle rather than (if anything) a semi or complete circle. In Hants I know of one other, at Laverstoke.

St Peter Old Church . Stockbridge . Hants – Scratch Dial

The dial is set facing south among a selection of witch marks and graffiti scratched around the doorway. I counted 8 (possibly 9) lines rather haphazardly drawn and positioned ’round the clock’, with several pocks on the dial and its perimeter (also a dot pattern below). The noon line seems faintly to be extended. The style hole is filled. I wonder if it is unusual for such a very early dial to mark a full 24-hour cycle?

BSS gives the condition as fair and specifies 8 lines. Pocks are not noted. Comment: Repositioned?Irregular outline. Crudely cut or made. Cannot be classified. Unique shape.

Green ARG includes Stockbridge new church in his indispensable book of 1926 ‘Sundials – Incised Dials or Mass Clocks’. He visited in May 1922 and there is a detailed entry covering the dial stone removed from the old church and repositioned, inverted, high up at the W. end of the N. aisle. I will post about this dial in due course. However ARG makes no specific mention of visiting the old church, and there is no entry for it except in his concluding list of Hants dials.

NOTE: for a short summary of the Stockbridge churches & dials, see the entry on BRITAIN EXPRESS

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Witch Mark; Church Graffiti

All photos – Keith Salvesen


St Catherine . Montacute . Somerset


GRADE II*. C12 origins on earlier pre-conquest site; extended in C13; tower C15; Victorian restoration. Outcompeted as an historic building by Montacute (the house) NT, worth a visit in its own right, obviously. 4 miles NW of Yeovil. 50.9498 / -2.7178 / ST496169



Repositioned and inverted on a S. buttress. An unusually large style hole, with other holes and pocks that may be markers, or perhaps irrelevant. The top left hole, on the circle, is the most likely to be related – perhaps a emphatic reminder for Mass. The afternoon lines are emphasised and the noon line elongated, though it looks a casual later addition. See below for image with the dial reverted

St Catherine . Montacute . Som – Scratch Dial 1

Father Horne DEH visited Montacute on 18 June 1914 and recorded it thus:

205. This dial is on the second buttress from the tower, at a height of 5 feet 7 inches above the ground. The noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/4 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 12° e. Type 5b.

This is a rare example (and perhaps none exists now, a century later) of a possible style fragment found in situ. The record continues:

This dial is upside down, and hence has been moved from its original place. A fragment of the metal style was extracted about an inch in length, and which had rusted down to about 1/2 of an inch in diameter. It appears to be a piece of iron. June 18th, 1914.


St Catherine . Montacute . Som – Scratch Dial 1 Reverted


On the second (E.) tower buttress on the S. side, another dial, unrecorded by Father Horne presumably because it doesn’t strictly fall within the – or his – scratch dial definition. However, it is a fine dial in its own right and deserves to feature here even if not quite qualified for inclusion.

I haven’t yet found an analysis of this dial in the usual resources. The lines are unevenly spaced but not graduated. The hours are clearly marked from 8 to noon in Arabic numerals; then faintly (eroded?) from 1 to 5 in Roman numerals. The 3-line is barely visible.

This Arabic / Roman numbering mix is not something I have come across before. It may help to date the dial – late C16 perhaps? Any further information would be welcome.

Ref: Somerset Historic Environment Record: There are two engraved sundials on the south side of the church. The first is semicircular and reset upside down on the second buttress west from the steps down to the boiler house. There are three marker holes. The second is on the E buttress for the tower and the divisions are numbered in a combination of Roman and arabic numbers. 

GSS Category: Scratch Dial(s); Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset

DEDICATION † St Mary. Mid C12 / earlier foundation; main development C15; C19 restoration


LOCATION † 8 miles NE. of Dorchester, 12 miles SE. of Yeovil, in the valley below the A37 racetrack. Hardy’s ‘Chalknewton’. More of a small town than a village, with a few shops, a garage and a station rather than (as elsewhere locally) a single shop and a halt. 50.7775 2.5727 SY597977


See detailed post for the recorded dial in the chancel doorway (RHS) HERE

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial on Chancel doorway

DIAL 2 (?)

The dial is at eye-level on the quoin of the buttress between the porch and the Chancel door. It is not recorded, and I can see why (a) it may have been overlooked and or (b) why, if noticed, it may have discounted as a definite dial. So I’ll argue the case.

This is a pock dial with no radials. There are 3 large pocks on a slight curve, and a couple of small ones slightly out of line. There are other pocks lower down, two of which (presuming a gnomon in the mortar immediately above) seem to relate to the large pocks – one might even be a noon indicator.

Using a crow’s feather as a style centred in the mortar above the large pocks, the shadow cast was photographed at about 11.30

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded)

St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded) . ‘Timed’ with a crow’s feather
St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded) . Details of the pocks
St Mary . Maiden Newton . Dorset . Scratch Dial 2? (unrecorded) . Location c/w Dial 1 beside the Chancel door

NOTES † There is a fine sundial ‘on S. face of tower, square slab with simple capping, iron gnomon and date 1630BHO. See OLD DIAL menu LINK

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos : Keith Salvesen


Church of St Feock . Feock . Cornwall


GRADE ll*. C15 with earlier origins. Complete rebuild in C18 ‘incorporating C15 windows, arcade and doorways’ HE. Separate C13 bell tower (cf Gunwalloe), listed G ll. 5m S. of Truro. 50.2057 / -5.0502 / SW824384

Only 4 scratch dials are recorded for Cornwall, this being one (see also Manaccan). I assume the main reason is that the local building materials – granites, serpentine, and other hard rock – are unrewarding to work with when cutting a dial


The dial is located prominently on the left side of the porch. Clearly the stone is different from and older than the surrounding stones (BSS dates the dial as C15), so it must have been rescued from the earlier building and reused in a typical dial position during the C18 reconstruction. The graffito SS 1766 makes a good case for being the date of relocation.

The recorded dial is under the date and has 3 or 4 adjacent indistinct short lines described (BSS) as ‘remote’. I take this to mean unlinked to the large style hole. To me they seem rather random and arguably not in the right place / at the right angle to be of much use. There’s the hint of an eroded circle. This basic dial’s main interest (apart from its extreme rarity in the county) arguably lies in the way it was incorporated and marked so appropriately during the rebuilding.


A. I assume SS to be the initials of the stonemason who reset the dial – rather boastfully larger than the incised date. Given the date, it seems unlikely to reference ‘Saints’. B. As for the triangular indented ‘nostrils’ with the trace of a partial circle, I have no idea – possibly the site of a later fixing? C. The vertical line to the right is another puzzle, with its carefully cut decorative ends (one eroded). I’d like it to be a cross, but there’s no indication of a horizontal.

More interesting is the ‘pattern’ lower right. When I first looked at the stone, I presumed from the clearer lines radiating from a centre, the 3 or 4 apparent pocks, and the trace of a circle, that this was the recorded dial. The upwards direction of the lines suggested that the ‘dial’ had been upper left and that the stone was inverted when reused (as is often the case with dial stones), after which the initials and date were added.

Here’s how the stone might have looked. Perhaps there are actually 2 dials on it?

Church of St Feock . Feock . Cornwall – Scratch Dial
St Feock . Cornwall . Stocks

NOTE: see also the entry for MANACCAN for a second recorded Cornish dial; and St Martin for 1 or even 2 candidates as hitherto unrecorded dials.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen