HAUTRIVE . ORNE . NORMANDY . ÉGLISE SAINT-MARTIN – Scratch Dial

St Martin . Hautrive . Orne . Normandy

ST MARTIN . HAUTERIVE . ORNE . NORMANDY

This unassuming little village is about 10 kms NE of Alençon, in the lower part of an area of Normandy south of Caen where medieval dials can be found on a number of village churches. Mostly, they are single examples but a handful of churches have a profusion of dials that are quite hard even to count let alone analyse.

DIAL

St Martin . Hautrive . Orne . Normandy – Scratch Dial

The dial is quite complex. Its position is on the quoin of the chancel, however the only reference I have found suggests it was at one time on the R side of the main doorway. The church is obviously well looked-after and its care may have involved relocation of stones when repairs were carried out.

The details of the dial’s semicircular design are intricate. There is a big blocked gnomon hole that must have been enlarged over the years from something more proportionate. The noon line is emphasised by a large terminal pock. 10± visible lines radiate from the centre, though there must have been more. Most end in pocks: some single, some double, some triple. The pocks themselves have small lines around them, or 2 are joined to each other. Overall, the impression is of a perfectly serviceable traditional Mass dial that has been made enjoyably decorative.

I have included close-ups of the lower quadrants of the dial together with side shots to better show the complexity of the dial in its eroded state. I have never encountered one quite like this.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Medieval Dial France

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