LIMINGTON . SOM. BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – Scratch Dial (inside porch); 2 Vertical Dials

St Mary . Limington . Som.

LIMINGTON . SOM . BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

GRADE I. C14 with earlier C13 features -1st Rector recorded 1215 BLB; C15 work and later; C19 restoration. One of several good village churches with dials in the vicinity of RNAS Yeovilton. 50.9989 / -2.6546 / ST541223

DIALS

DIAL 1

South Somerset is unusual for the number for scratch dials located inside a (later added) S. porch beside the original doorway. Limington is one (see also BLACKFORD, for example). St Mary also has medieval graffiti and other marks in the porch, some shown in the images below. As often over the life of a church, walls were whitewashed so the paint flecks are not unusual. For a good example of an ‘internal’ porch still painted over, see WAYFORD.

NOTE: There are also 2 vertical dials, one above the other, on the S. buttress of the tower. In due course I’ll add a link to a separate post about them

St Mary . Limington . Som. – Scratch Dial inside the S. porch

DEH visited St Mary in May 1915 and noted that ‘the lines are sharp and clean cut’. He records:

197. (1) This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 11 inches above the floor, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is s. by 20° e. Type 2

DIAL 2

DEH also found a second dial and, from his description, I missed it on my visit and walked straight past it. He records:

198. (2) This dial is on a buttress to the w. of the priest’s door. It is 5 feet 1 inch above the ground, the noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is 1/2 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15° e. Type 5c.

I took a rather bad photo of the buttress from a distance and can find no obvious dial. However I did find what may be an eroded and be-lichened dial on the angled buttress at the E. end, facing SE. There’s more than one part circle here. So this may be a third dial – or it doesn’t rank as a dial and (if he saw it) DEH discounted it. The latter, most likely. Limington is yet another church to revisit and check. I will amend accordingly.

GSS Category: Scratch Dials

Photos: Keith Salvesen

CHILTON CANTELO . SOM . ST JAMES – trace dials? (unrecorded)

St James . Chilton Cantelo . Som

GRADE II* C15 tower, ‘earlier fragments’ BLB. Later church significantly restored mid C18 (‘unremarkable’). An early church made Gothic. Located N. of Yeovil, S. of the dreaded A303, an area with several good dial churches and some intriguing village names. 50.9974 / -2.6138 / ST570221

DIALS (?)

This buttress on the tower is not one to get too excited about. However, 2 stones caught my attention. The top eroded or damaged stone shows most of a semicircle. It does not appear to continue onto the stone below. The lower stone has – just below the mortar line – a similar very faint semicircle, with a more visible one underneath. To the left are some scratchings including a crescent.

One feature of this group is that the damaged stone may have been relocated; it doesn’t match those around it. Overall it is probably best to view these marks as doodles – using a nail and string? – more than dials. It is not recorded by DEH of BSS. All the same, it was worth taking a close look. Any views, positive or negative, welcome.

St James . Chilton Cantelo . Som – traces of scratch dials?

GSS Category: Scratch Dials (possible)

Photos: Keith Salvesen

HOUGHTON . HANTS . ALL SAINTS – Scratch Dials

All Saints . Houghton . Hants

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

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.

DIAL 2

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

KNIGHTON . POWYS . ST EDWARD

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

DIAL?

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

PEWSEY . WILTS . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST – Scratch Dials

St John the Baptist . Pewsey . Wilts

PEWSEY . WILTS . ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

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

DIAL

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

WENTNOR . SHROPSHIRE . ST MICHAEL & ALL ANGELS – Scratch Dial

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

BRAMPTON BRYAN . HEREFORD . ST BARNABAS – Scratch Dial

St Barnabas . Brampton Bryan . Herefordshire

GRADE 1. C14, earliest record for the site 1275. Largely destroyed in 1643 during the Civil War, as was the adjacent castle. Almost entirely rebuilt in 1656. Late C19 alterations and extensions. Much of interest including a triple hammerbeam roof. Most notable as a rare example of a church built (or rebuilt) during the Commonwealth. 52.3471 / -2.9255 / SO370725

DIAL

St Barnabas . Brampton Bryan . Herefordshire – Scratch Dial (Circle type)

The dial, a large circle, is on a short buttress under the E. window. There are few detectable marks, not least because of the lichen that covers most of it. The presumed style hole is basically a dimple in the centre. The present position – and indeed the history of the building – indicates relocation. It’s hard to say how useful it might originally have been, but it adds to the remnants of the church’s medieval past.

PLAUSIBLE ADDITIONAL DIAL (UNRECORDED)

To the right of the E. buttress on the E. end, there is a darker reddish stone, of a type seen elsewhere in the stonework, that caught my eye. There were 2 distinct long downward lines from an apex where there might credibly be a style hole. My photos don’t show the stone and markings as clearly as they looked to the eye. I immediately thought it was a probable dial. If so – given its position – the stone was undoubtedly relocated during reconstruction. I leave these images as food for thought. Comments are welcome.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY – Scratch Dial (unrecorded)

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary

MELBURY BUBB . DORSET . ST MARY THE VIRGIN

GRADE 1. Church origins obscure; existing building dates from C15 with substantial C19 rebuilding. Renowned font carved from the column of a C10 Saxon cross and inverted. Excellent chest tombs. Next to a fine C17 Manor. The hamlet – Hardy’s ‘Little Hintock’ – is a few miles SW. of Sherborne, nestled into a peaceful hillside with outstanding views over the Blackmore Vale, shielded from the roar of the lethal A37 Yeovil – Dorchester road. 50.8571°N / 2.5753°W / ST596065

DIAL

BSS register and GLP describe a ‘doubtful’ dial: On W. buttress of tower, late C15. A doubtful dial consisting of a single horizontal line leading to a shallow hole. This could be the remains of a painted dial, or a piece of graffiti.

BSS Diagram of the doubtful dial

This church is local to us. We can see it clearly from our house 2 miles away. Since I started this blog, I have checked the buttress two or three times and failed to find a mark similar to the diagram. There are some horizontal faults in the stone, but I haven’t seen anything as precise.

Recently I decided to try again, choosing early evening on a sunny day when the light would be shining directly onto the face of the buttress. Which it did. This is what was revealed, faintly visible in direct sunlight.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

There’s an element of wish fulfilment with amateur dial sleuthing – each hole a potential gnomon location; two or more proximate lines as radials; adjacent erosion faults and dots as dial pocks. However, close inspection here revealed a clear design conforming to dial norms.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial

The central hole has horizontal and vertical lines leading from it that divide the enclosed area into quadrants. There is the trace of a circle, slightly off-centre from the style hole. The upper vertical extends close to the circumference; the lower vertical (noon-line) stops slightly short of it; the left horizontal extends beyond almost to the lichen; and the right horizontal extends into the lichen. There’s a trace of what could be a 1-line to the right of the noon-line.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – Scratch Dial annotated

Having examined the dial in situ, made some measurements, and checked my photos I am convinced that this is a simple scratch dial probably from C15 soon after the tower was built rather than later. In any event I have convinced myself.

The remarkable font deserves inclusion. HE describes it as a cylindrical tapering stone bowl, reversed, formerly base of a shaft, carved with continuous design of beasts: stag, horse, wolf, and ?lion, and lesser beasts, and interlacement, C10. There is a helpful description and annotated diagram in the church.

I have seen St Mary described as a ‘one-treasure church’, but the whole interior, the churchyard with its early chest tombs, the lovely setting of the church and hamlet – and possibly a C15 mass dial – make it rather more than that.

Melbury Bubb . Dorset . St Mary – the C10 Saxon-origin font

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

MONTACUTE . SOMERSET . ST CATHERINE . 2 dials

St Catherine . Montacute . Somerset

MONTACUTE . SOMERSET . ST CATHERINE

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

DIALS

DIAL 1

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.

DIAL 1 REVERTED

St Catherine . Montacute . Som – Scratch Dial 1 Reverted

DIAL 2

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

ODCOMBE . SOMERSET – ST PETER & ST PAUL: SCRATCH DIAL

St Peter and St Paul . Odcombe . Somerset

ST PETER AND ST PAUL . ODCOMBE . SOMERSET

GRADE II*. C13 origins, mainly C15, later restoration, transepts added 1874. 3 miles W. of Yeovil, close to Montacute. 50.9365 / -2.7031 / ST506154

DIAL

The dial, once located E. of the porch, is disappointingly half-concealed by a discoloured and broken perspex sheet screwed over it. It’s a well-intended method of protection, of course, but some say it is preferable to leave a dial to erode naturally over the centuries. Possibly a covering like this could actually cause deterioration.

A number of clear graduated lines are visible in the lower R quadrant. There is a large pock, with a couple of small holes in the mortar below. The large one – between the terminus of two afternoon lines – may well be part of the dial. It’s too large to be the location of the missing screw for the covering. Perhaps that was fixed in a smaller hole in the mortar.

St Peter and St Paul . Odcombe . Somerset – Scratch Dial

Dom Ethelbert Horne DEH visited Odcombe church on June 8th, 1915. He noted: this dial is on the s.e. face of the buttress, and hence may not be in its original position and his record states:

208. This dial is on the s.e. angle buttress of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 4 inches above the ground, the noonline is 3 inches in length, the stylehole is 4 1/4 inches deep by 1 inch in diameter, and the aspect is s.e. Type 3. June 8th, 1915.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photographs – Keith Salvesen