WINTERBOURNE STEEPLETON . DORSET . ST MICHAEL – Scratch Dials

St Michael Winterbourne Steepleton Dorset

ST MICHAEL . WINTERBOURNE STEEPLETON . DORSET

GRADE I A fine early church in a lovely setting. C11 quoins to nave; C12 nave rebuilt; C14 3-stage W tower, porch; C15 chancel. Later alterations, restorations. Just W of Dorchester, yet seeming miles away in its peaceful valley. Visit Winterbourne Monkton while you are there (2 perhaps 3 dials). 50.7067 /  -2.5266 / SY629898

DIALS

Two dials are recorded. The first is simple to find and simple in style. The second is so simple that I could not with certainty claim to have found it. It was registered quite a while ago, and possibly lichen spread has made what was already faint, no longer identifiable.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is located on a SW quoin stone of the nave. When examined in the 1990’s it was noted to be ‘behind a drainpipe’, which is no longer the case. By strange coincidence, when I visited the rest of the drainpipes were being repaired and repainted.

This is a straightforward little 4-line morning dial with a pleasingly casual approach to straight lines. The deeper incised line suggests that terce was the most significant Mass of the day. Do see the Saxon statue mentioned in the notice (there is a similar one in Bradford on Avon), and indeed spend some time inside this interesting small church.

DIAL 2

This dial was recorded as being on the S buttress of the tower, with 1 line 45mm long and a pock. It was noted then as ‘very faint’. While Dial 1 is mentioned elsewhere eg BHO, I have found no other reference. However, a drawing was made and is all I can offer for present purposes.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial, Mass Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen; diagrams BSS

ALVEDISTON . WILTS . ST MARY – Scratch Dial

St Mary . Alvediston . Wilts

ST MARY . ALVEDISTON . WILTS

GRADE II* C12 origins; a chapel of Broad Chalke by 1299, from which date Vicars were recorded. From that period, C12 font bowl. Many sources only date the church to C17 with restoration by T. H. Wyatt 1866. One of several pretty villages in the secluded Ebble valley between Salisbury and Shaftsbury. 51.0149 / -2.0345 / ST976239

DIAL

The dial is on the W jamb of the porch, described elsewhere as a C19 lean-to. Restorations clearly entailed considerable relocation of stones over time. The dial is easy to overlook, being small, weathered, and upside-down.

St Mary . Alvediston . Wilts – Scratch Dial

The dial is located 1m high, W of the S doorway, inverted. BSS records it as accurately cut, upside-down, eroded and damaged. Unexpectedly it is described as a Rudimentary (Norman) dial, which dates it back to the C12 / C13 origins of St Mary. If so, the dial has survived intact for several hundred years, only to end up inverted on a C19 lean-to porch.

It is sometimes useful to revert a dial that has been rotated, so that the original design is clearer. There are 2 definite lines. There is no visible noon line but the line LRQ has both a mid-line pock and a terminal pock. Presumably this marked the most significant Mass time during the passage of the day, in this case equating roughly with the canonical Nones.

NOTES When I originally checked some usual resources for St Mary, it was intriguing to find that its history began in C17. A simple (or any?) scratch dial could not be expected. So I turned to the comprehensive BHO entry for the Parish, which explains the origins of St Mary and its medieval dial in more detail:

Of the 12th-century church, only the nave, small and with thick walls, appears to survive. The chancel was possibly replaced in the 13th century but may have survived longer. In 1585 it was said to be ‘down’  and was afterwards presumably rebuilt or repaired. The south transept or chapel was built in the 14th century; there is an effigy of a knight in armour below the south window. The north transept may also have been built in the 14th century. The tower was built in the 17th century. In 1865 the church was extensively restored to designs by T. H. Wyatt. The north transept was rebuilt, the north chapel was built, and the chancel was given 13th century features.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

MUDFORD . SOMERSET . ST MARY (2) – 2 Scratch Dials

St Mary . Mudford . Somerset

ST MARY . MUDFORD . SOMERSET

GRADE I † Mostly early C14 and C15. Built with local stone: lias and ham. A fine C17 cube dial, 2 slightly unrewarding scratch dials, impressive gargoyles. A complete set of 5 bells dated 1582, 1621, 1623, 1664 and 1666, all by Purdue family. Some pews have graffiti from C17 on. 3m N of Yeovil. 50.9773 / -2.6086 / ST573199

I have previously posted about St Mary with the emphasis on the splendid CUBE DIAL high on the apex of the E end. I mentioned 2 scratch dials but because they fall into the separate Medieval Dial category I am giving them some more attention here.

MUDFORD: TWO SCRATCH DIALS

The two dials are on the inner face of the buttress at the E end of the church, one above the other – a less than optimal position. They were obviously relocated and incorporated during expansion / restoration and used as quoin stones for the buttress, though pointless as dials where they are now. The stones themselves are similar, but it seems unlikely that the 2 dials were adjacent before being moved.

Dial 1 is very simple: a style hole with 2 lines descending, the noon line and 1pm. A rod gnomon would very clearly mark the noon part of the day, perhaps indicating that Mass was not quite yet… or that it had been missed…

There is a similar 2-line dial at BROADMAYNE Dorset, where the 2 lines are at either side of the vertical (ie at 11 and 1), cut so that ‘noon’ is in effect the space between them. At COMPTON PAUNCEFOOT there is a large dial on the facade with 3 lines: noon and one each side.

Dial 2 has 4 clear lines radiating from the style hole. These are E of the vertical, marking roughly 1 to 4 (there is no noon line). On both dials there are faint hints of other lines now eroded.

DEH recorded the Mudford dials in May 2015 during a tour of several churches in the area

CUBE DIAL

St Mary . Mudford . Somerset – Cube Dial

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WEST CLANDON . SURREY . ST PETER & ST PAUL – 4 Unusual Scratch Dials

St Peter & St Paul . West Clandon . Surrey

GRADE II* † Saxon origins, mentioned DB, no remnants remain. Nave dated c1180; rebuilding ± 1200, chancel added; tower added then or soon after. Mid-Victorian restorations; shingled spire rebuilt 1913. Much of interest within the church – see HERE for highlights. 6m NE of Guildford. 51.2509 /  -0.5052 / TQ044512

DIALS

There are 4 dials, each of significance. On the S wall of the chancel, there is a wonderful dial framed in ashlar stone as if to emphasise its qualities. Inside the church – not just inside the porch – are 3 dials cut on the same stone. Interior dials are almost inevitably the result of relocation and are scarce enough (cf THORNFORD); 3 together must be very rare.

DIAL 1

POSITION Relocated from a buttress to the S wall of the chancel, enclosed by a surround of 4 stones set into the local flint and described elsewhere as …marred by the addition of an inappropriate stone frame (an arguable view?). BSS notes a possible inversion based on variations in the size of the dots; but that would nullify the point of the emphatic noon line design. Unless the 4 pocks were added later of course…

DATE The dial seems so sophisticated in design and execution that I had thought it ±C15. However BHO records a stone on which is cut an early circular sundial probably of the 12th century; it has three circles and is divided in twenty-four spaces by radiating lines; four dots mark the hour of noon and a small cross that of six p.m. A Surrey survey records Dated c 1180 by Johnston (1900, 74), SyAC, 21 (1908), 83-100. This date certainly corresponds to the construction of the nave / the additions soon after. So this is a very early dial probably dating from the construction of the church in its present form and clearly merits its prominent location and ashlar protection.

DEREK RENN in his research on the dials of Surrey considered this dial to be the most elaborate in the county, describing it as three concentric circles divided by 24 equidistant radii, having drilled holes at the intersections, as well as on the arms of an external cross and beside another line at right angles to the cross.

HOW THE DIAL WORKS AS A CALENDAR

DR also explains ingeniously how the dial might have worked: This would function best as an equatorial dial… mounted in the plane of the equator with its upright pointer parallel to the earth’s axis and not vertical, but even then little more than one-half of the dial would be necessary. A possible explanation is that the dial also functioned as a calendar: a peg was moved daily from hole to hole, the cross marking the point at which the peg progressed to the next circle. Another peg counted the number of complete circuits of the ‘board’ for the year on the four separate holes, with the odd days as well. In arithmetical terms: 24 x 3 x (4+1) – 360, +(4+1) = 365

DIALS 2 – 4

These 3 dials are closely grouped on a single stone on the north face of the west jamb of the south doorway. It would be interesting to know where they were originally located, and when / why they were moved to their present position with a purely decorative function.

DIAL 1 has 7 lines including the horizontals in a late a.m. to early p.m. formation. They are rather untidily incised and only 6 are clearly distinguishable. They are within a very faint perimeter curve, with 3 extending beyond it.

DIAL 2 has 5 lines radiating from a large (for its size) style hole. The lines are interestingly formed: 2 lightly cut a.m. lines; 2 deeper cut p.m. lines and extended noon line. The incisions of the latter 3 are unusually decorative, with one being slightly wedge-shaped. Overall, it seems clear that the afternoon was the most important time for daily religious purposes.

DIAL 3 is fully encircled with one clear line roughly corresponding to Tierce. The other 2 (3?) are faint and rudimentary in comparison. Another large style hole completes the design.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Multiple Dials; Early Dials

All photos: Keith Salvesen. Research material: usual resources BLB HE BHO &co; David Ross; Derek Renn

WINTERBORNE KINGSTON . DORSET . ST NICHOLAS – Scratch Dial

St Nicholas . Winterborne Kingston . Dorset

GRADE II* † C14, with (unusually) few changes until C19 additions and restorations (Street). An attractively uncomplicated church and churchyard. The tower houses 7 bells, of which 4 are dated 1600. 14m E of Dorchester 50.7778 / -2.1967 / SY862976

DIAL

As I read it, the dial has a clear ‘midnight to noon’ line, extended at both ends; and a fainter 6-to-6 horizontal that ends more or less on the circumference. There are 3 other clear lines in LL quadrant, and perhaps other faint traces. I can’t make out more than that, even in a close-up. GLP recorded 13 lines, 7 of which extend beyond the circumference and notes that the dial is partially divided into decimal hours (LL quadrant), with ‘morning hours’ divided into 5 sections and the ‘afternoon hours’ into 6 (I’m not seeing the afternoon hours). He compares it to PIDDLEHINTON.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

AFFPUDDLE . DORSET . ST LAURENCE – Scratch Dials

St Laurence . Affpuddle . Dorset

ST LAURENCE . AFFPUDDLE . DORSET

GRADE I † C13 origin (nave, chancel); C14 S porch; C15 enlargement, tower; C19 restorations inc Wyatt. Good C13 south door: cusped arch, carved heads as dripstones BHO. 2 Purdue bells. Early C16 oak pulpit, bench ends. 10m NE Dorchester. A most attractive and well-kept church. 50.7427 /  -2.2772 / SY805937

THES SEATYS WERE MADE YN THE YERE OF OWRE LORD GOD MCCCCCXLV

IN THE THYME OF THOMAS LYLLYNGTON VICAR O THYS CHERCH.

DIALS

St Laurence has 2 dials, one either side of the nave window. Unusually, both are entirely designed with holes (cf TRENT) apart from a token noon indicator on Dial 1, barely discernible (see diagram).

DIAL 1

St Laurence . Affpuddle . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

W jamb of the nave window, in poor condition. Besides the single vertical line, there are 8 small holes in a curve below the style hole. 2 further holes emphasise Nones, the Mass time equating in clock terms to 3pm. GLP notes that the dial is accurately cut.

St Laurence . Affpuddle . Dial 1 BBS

DIAL 2

St Laurence . Affpuddle . Dorset – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is on the E jamb, a longer and clearer semicircle of 12 holes. There are a couple of small holes that might be for emphasis / to mark a half hour (see eg between 9 and 10). GLP notes that the style hole is very small / shallow for a gnomon. Again he found the dial very accurate, most holes being within 4º of true, with 5 exactly correct.

St Laurence . Affpuddle . Dial 2 BSS

CHURCH MARKS OF ST LAURENCE

Some of those interested in medieval church dials (and you have after all reached here) are likely to check a church for other medieval marks. St Laurence is worth visiting for these alone. Here are just 3 examples, of which one is especially intriguing and needs be researched further (not by me).

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Church Marks; Medieval Graffitti

All photos: Keith Salvesen

TRENT . DORSET . ST ANDREW – 4 Scratch Dials

St Andrew . Trent . Dorset

GRADE I † C13 origin nave, N chapel, later enlarged; C14 tower & porch; C15 rebuilt chancel; subsequent repairs and C19 restorations. One of only 3 Dorset medieval churches with a spire (with Iwerne Minster & Winterborne Steepleton). A fascinating church smothered in history, the details best researched separately. C15 font. Pride of place is taken by the superb 16th century screen, which is one of the best in Dorset NCT. Good C16 bench ends. For a quick overview of St Andrew BLB. At the centre of the Sherborne – Yeovil – Marston Magna triangle. 50.9648 / -2.5859 /  ST589185

DIALS

There are 4 dials in 2 pairs. They have much in common. All are on buttresses; all are C15; and unusually, all are designed entirely with pocks, without any lines at all. There are a couple of other plausible dials with a promising style hole in a mortar line or roughly central on a stone. There are hints of pocks that may be related, but erosion and lichen make it hard to be sure. Best left as a mystery.

DIAL 1

St Andrew . Trent . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

On the chancel, SW face of the end buttress. The gnomon hole is in the dial stone, with a curve of 7 pocks below it, of which one has a second that perhaps marked a an off-vertical noon line.

St Andrew . Trent . Scratch Dial 2 – BSS

DIAL 2

St Andrew . Trent . Dorset – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is the most intriguing of the 4 dials. It is below Dial 1 on the SW face of the chancel buttress. There are 24 holes drilled in a curve of 3 rows, with 8 in each row. The careful design has the dots radiating accurately from the gnomon hole as though they were lines. Additionally, there are outlier dots – 3, perhaps 4 – below the neat curve: see image above. They are drilled more or less in line with the design on the main dots, in a way that looks meant. GLP refers to them as extra dots.

DIAL 3

St Andrew . Trent . Dorset – Scratch Dial 3

Dial 3 is on the cancel buttress E of the doorway. There are 6 pocks in a curve below a gnomon hole presumed to have been in the mortar but no longer identifiable. GLP concluded that this dial and its companion below were unlikely to have been accurate.

St Andrew . Trent . Dorset – Scratch Dial 3 BSS

DIAL 4

A similar dial with 4 pocks and a cement-filled gnomon hole in the mortar line. GLP also doubted its accuracy. It is hard to account for the fact that 2 such similar basic dials are so close. Rival sextons? A competition? A new incumbent?

St Andrew . Trent . Dorset – Scratch Dial 4 BSS
Bagpipe-playing hunky punk – St Andrew Trent Dorset (Keith Salvesen)

Note: To see the Vertical Dial, visit the Old Dial page HERE

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Hunky Punk

All photos: Keith Salvesen

DOWNTON . WILTS . ST LAURENCE – 2 Scratch Dials

St Laurence . Downton . Wilts

ST LAURENCE . DOWNTON . WILTS

GRADE I † C11 nave; C13 transepts; C14 chancel. From C17, alterations and restorations inc by Wyatt in 1860. Large and interesting cruciform church PEV. Marble Feversham family monuments by Scheemakers. Significant local legacy from NeolithicIron AgeRoman (Villa) and Saxon times. 9m S of Salisbury. 50.9937 / -1.7433 / SU181216

DIALS

St Laurence has 2 dials on the 2nd buttress E of the porch, one above the other. The upper one is a fine example of a large dial filling the dial stone. The lower is so badly damaged / eroded that it would be easy miss; and it is quite hard to imagine what it looked like originally.

DIAL 1

Dial 1 is encircled, with 13 lines and 24 pocks around the perimeter and forming 2 crosses . This large dial not only takes up the width of the stone, the circumference continues onto the stone below as do some lines (esp. 11am). The noon line ends in a 4-dot cross on the main stone, and the 9am line has a 5-dot cross on the lower stone.

The gnomon hole is of particular interest; I haven’t come across a square hole with (apparently) a circular one inside it before. Possibly the original gnomon was a basic rod, and its round hole later enlarged to accommodate a more visible square rod.

DIAL 2

Dials Locations

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Sundial; Church Dated Initials

All photos: Keith Salvesen

WINTERBORNE MONKTON . DORSET – ST SIMON & ST JUDE: Scratch Dials

Winterborne Monkton . St Simon & St Jude

ST SIMON & ST JUDE . WINTERBORNE MONKTON . DORSET

GRADE II* † Early C13 chancel, nave, N doorway; C15 N porch; c1500 W Tower; later additions; C19 restorations. A simple typically Dorset small church in an attractive location. 2m S of Dorchester (can be combined with Winterborne Steepleton nearby (2 dials). 50.6884 / -2.4604 / SY675877

DIALS

GLP notes a single doubtful dial over a blocked doorway, not included in BSS records. However there is a clear inverted dial elsewhere on S side. There is also a dial-ish quoin stone that I include. There’s not enough evidence to consider it much more than doubtful, but the location is conventional and the overall ‘jizz’ (to use a birding term) invited more than a glance.

DIAL 1

Above the blocked S aisle door, C16. GLP suggests a masons’ mark rather than a scratch dial and notes a similar ‘dial’ at Hilton, near Blandford. There are 2 faint concentric circles. The very small central hole that would be more consistent with the use of a compass inscribe the circle.

DIAL 2

Quite high up at the W end of the S face is a very clear dial that I have not found recorded elsewhere. There are 7 lines, each ending in a pock and with the (presumed) 9-line having a second pock, doubtless the main Mass time. The reversion below shows how the design would have worked well as a morning dial.

The most intriguing feature is the presence of (the remains of) a square rod in the style hole, with filler material round it. It seems highly unlikely to be original, though it may have been inserted many years ago perhaps as a replacement gnomon. A square rod in not so rare: there is one at St Mary, Glanvilles Wootton, for example.

Winterborne Monkton . St Simon & St Jude – Reverted Scratch Dial

DIAL 3 ?

An excellent dial position, a hole almost central to the stone, and inverted (if a dial at all) as often the case where a dial has been superseded or its stone relocated. I have included a reversion that makes the upwards mark into a noon line. There are hints of perimeter pocks in LR quadrant.

Finally, there are 3 fine C17 memorial floor slabs to admire

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Gnomon Rod; Masons’ Mark, C17 memorial floor slabs

All photos: Keith Salvesen

ROTHBURY . NORTHUMBERLAND . ALL SAINTS – 2 Scratch Dials

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

ALL SAINTS . ROTHBURY . NORTHUMBERLAND

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

DIALS

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.

DIAL 1

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.

DIAL 2

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.

REFERENCES

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