GARDEN SUNDIAL . MINTERNE HOUSE . DORSET

MINTERNE HOUSE . DORSET

A sundial on the terrace of this fine house, with its C17 origins and unbroken line of Digbys. The renowned gardens are especially worth visiting in Spring. It features a collapsible gnomon, an unusual feature not conducive to enhancing its primary purpose.

HORNIMAN MUSEUM . LONDON . ROMAN SUNDIAL

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

The HORNIMAN MUSEUM in South London is a wondrous place for people of all ages. Few (or no) visitors will fail to find something of interest or inspiration. Click on the link to find out more (rather than have me give a lengthy description of the excellent collection).

Among the many innovative collections and installations is a brilliant SUNDIAL TRAIL that showcases 12 different and distinct types of sundial. These are dotted around the park (not all are outside). Some have an additional ingenious feature that makes them unique – incorporating morse code for an inscription, for example.

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

The dial was designed by John Moir and constructed by Ray Ashley. The gnomon’s shape is based upon the ‘H’ from the old Horniman Museum logo. The edge of the shadow created by the ‘H’ indicates solar time. The museum’s image below when the dial was newly made shows it in action, so to speak.

THE HORNIMAN ROMAN DIAL

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

The dial has a central cross marking the noon line. In addition, signs of the Zodiac are marked though I don’t know enough to say how they fit into the design – why, for example, pisces is below the noon line.

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

I have a second Horniman dial to write up in due course. You can find details of all the dials on the Horniman website (see link above). There is also SUNDIAL TRAIL MAP (do not open if you want to discover the dials unassisted…).

Roman Sundial . Horniman Museum . London

GSS Category: Roman Dial; Bowl Dial

All photos, Keith Salvesen; specific information / new dial image, Horniman Museum

LLUC MONASTERY . MALLORCA . COMPLEX MULTI-DIAL: from Canonical to 20th Century

Multiple Vertical Sundial, Lluc Monastery, Mallorca (Keith Salvesen)
Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial (Keith Salvesen)

The secluded Monastery of Lluc is situated near Escorca in the Tramuntana mountains of Mallorca. It dates from the c13, and is famous for its Black Madonna, the discovery of which is said to have led to the monastery’s foundation . It is a place of pilgrimage. The location is remote and peaceful, though inevitably the monastery has become an essential stop on the tourist and coach party trail. We returned there recently, not having visited Mallorca for more than 20 years. The buildings were much as we remembered, but the parking and visitor arrangements were more regimented and complex. Before, one just drove down the narrow road from the main mountain road and parked in the forecourt area close to the buildings. Now, everything is (unsurprisingly) geared to a daily mass influx of people and their needs for sustenance and souvenirs. We were pleased to see that it is still possible to stay at Lluc in one of small rooms under a long covered walk where the monks once slept. You can even book a room for the night.

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial

A short walk from the monastery, there is a path that leads up to a calvary and some great views. Along the way is an amazing multiple vertical sundial. It was designed by Rafael Soler, and carved in 1991. It displays with some style the evolution of sundials from medieval to modern. There are two historical dials, one solar dial, and two seasonal dials.

CANONICAL HOURS – LATINATE

This dial simply records the 3-hourly canonical divisions of the liturgical day (as with the early medieval mass / scratch dials), starting with midnight (top) and working counterclockwise round a central gnomon. 

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial (Canonical)

CANONICAL HOURS – BABYLONIAN / MALLORQUIN

A more complex dial, starting at noon shown as XXIV (I’m not clear why not XII) through to 21.00. The dial includes months and the signs of the Zodiac.

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial – Babylonian / Mallorquines

TEMPS VERTADER – TRUE SOLAR TIME

The centre dial shows true solar time. The polar gnomon (triangular) shows the hours, the pointer shows the date with the declination lines. The inscription MULIER AMICTER SOLE (Woman Clothed by the Sun) references an account in the Book of Revelations. You can find out more HERE

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial

MEAN TIME DIAL (SUMMER /AUTUMN)

The two right-hand sundials are complementary and each covers two seasons. Presumably for a particular month, one dial will be reliable as to time and the ‘off-season’ one will not. The words are Catalan eg Hores Mitjanes = Mean Time; Estiu I Tardor = Summer and Autumn.

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial

MEAN TIME DIAL (WINTER / SPRING)

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca – Sundial
BBS Record

The creation of these dials was obviously a labour of love and skill combined. There’s doubtless plenty more to be said about these sundials and the splendid ensemble but I decided not to get too technical – indeed, as an amateur I don’t understand enough to do so. The rather washed out appearance of the images was operator error – I had the camera on the wrong settings and didn’t realise until too late…

Lluc Monastery . Mallorca

GSS Category: canonical to modern multi-dial; sundial Lluc Mallorca

All photos: Keith Salvesen; snippet from BSS record

Original Credits: ‘Props to arby101ca and lumbricus, members of a geocaching & waymarking website called Groundspeak. They hiked to Lluc (respect!) and wrote informatively about these dials. I found relatively little elsewhere.

LAVAUDIEU . AUVERGNE . MAIRIE – Dial Simplicity

Lavaudieu is a small Auvergne town with a fine romanesque Abbey. For present purposes, the sundial on the wall of the Mairie is the attraction. On a bright sunny day, the simplicity and legibility of this civic dial is hard to beat. The ‘arrowheads’ might be considered a little too ornate for the overall design.

‘Moins est plus’ might be a good motto for the dial, as it is more generally. As soon as I saw it I knew it would be in my top 20 non-medieval dials. It still is.

GSS Category: Modern Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

CÉRET . FRANCE – ST FERRÉOL HERMITAGE

St Ferréol Hermitage. Céret . France

Céret lies south of Perpignan, in the foothills of the Pyrenees quite close to the Spanish border. The Hermitage is a short distance to the north. The modern art museum in Céret has many works by Picasso, including sculpture and ceramics; and by other famous artists of the period.

St Ferréol Hermitage, Céret, France – sundial (2004)

This enjoyably rustic sundial is painted directly onto the facade of the C13 chapel (restoration C18). It is intriguing for the way in which the radials are moored, carefully graduated, on the diagonal of the dial face. The arrow gnomon forms part of the opposite diagonal. As an amateur, to me the design of the dial looks quite complicated, especially the calculation of the angle and distance between 11 & noon.

I am still trying to work out the inscription at the top. It seems to be ‘Ultimum’, which could be a neat Latin way of saying something like ‘To the end of Time / Jusqu’ à la fin du temps’

GSS Category: Modern Dial

All photographs: Keith Salvesen