CREECH ST MICHAEL . SOM . ST MICHAEL – Scratch Dials

ST MICHAEL . CREECH ST MICHAEL. SOM

GRADE I C12 origins, mainly C13; C15 perp additions and C19 restoration. A most attractive building, highly praised as an uncommonly interesting church PEV. Called All Saints until C16. Traces of C17 wall paintings. 6 bells, earliest 1590. Additional dials found. 5m E of Taunton. 51.0224 / -3.0355 / ST274252

DIALS

DEH visited St Michael in Sept 1913 and noted a group of 3 dials on W side of the porch. He recorded All three of these dials are close together, very poor in construction, and one or other of them is probably only a copy dial, but the lines of all have been added to, and it is difficult to say which is the original. Dial 2 is the least explicable.

There are 3 other dials (one is debatable): 2 on E side of the porch, in much the same position as Dials 1-3; 1 on the W window jamb of the whitewashed chapel. This last is in good condition comparatively; and the more precise design suggests it was the latest and presumably superseded the others in accuracy and legibility.

DIAL 1

DEH: 152. (1) This dial is on the w. side of the s. porch, 4 feet 8 inches above the ground. The noon line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled, and the aspect is s. by 8° e.

A fairly conventional morning dial with 9 (10?) lines, with the lines marking (roughly) Tierce and noon cut deeper. It’s difficult to interpret the pocks, if that is what they are. Several correspond with the relevant radials; the vertical seems to have a 2nd pock lower down (Mass time marker?). Possibly they were added later.

DIAL 2

DEH: 153. (2) This dial is close by the side of No 1. The noon line is 4 inches in length, the style hole is filled, aspect as above.

Dial 2 is confusing. How did that mish-mash of lines, hole-infilling, and extensive repair come about – and when? There’s no doubt that in the mix is a very basic dial with 2 lines curving left that appear to radiate from the mortar line above.

The 4 quite deep and almost parallel incisions just below the 2-line dial are problematic. It’s hard to see them as part of the overall dial design on that stone. And 4 verticals in a row would make a poor marker for noon. Also, it does not seem that they would converge at the same position as for the identifiable dial. In fact, seen on their own, they might be taken as an apotropaic mark of the grid and pock kind (though they are not convincing in that respect either).

DIAL 3

DEH: 154. (3) Six inches above No. 2, a dial with noon line 3 inches in length, the style hole filled, aspect as above.

This morning dial has 3 lines that radiate from the stone overhang, There is a small hole at the apex where presumably a thin style was inserted. The upper line ends with 2 clear pocks, and must have marked the most significant Mass time of the day (in this case, Tierce)

DIAL 4

A rough, eroded, and damaged dial on E jamb of the porch, level with dials 1 – 3. There are 6 detectable lines, 2 very faint. Again, a morning dial, with Tierce marked with a pock. The filled gnomon hole is big, but that may have occurred over time.

DIAL 5

This small dial is in the corresponding position opposite dial 3. It is simpler and less well defined, with a small style hole and 3 detectable lines radiating from the hole, only one being easily visible. It might be classified as ‘doubtful’ but for its relationship to dial 3 on the other side of the entrance, which I think upgrades it to ‘plausible’.

DIAL 6

This attractive dial, originally completely encircled, has survived the passage of time rather better than the others. There are 18 lines that make up a 3/4 circle, with a deeper cut noon line and a large style hole. The angles between the lines are somewhat random but I expect that the dial was effective as a marker of the progress of the day.

The way in which the dial stone has been cut to fit the space could suggest that it was relocated. In a way it might make more sense if rotated 90º clockwise, but testing that theory using a photo didn’t look right.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

FOVANT . WILTS . ST GEORGE – Multiple Scratch Dials

St George . Fovant . Wilts

GRADE II † C13, C14, C15, restored 1863 (T.H.Wyatt); tower restored 1988. A sad history of disrepair (C15, C17), but nowadays a most attractive and surprisingly secluded church. One bell (of 6) is C15. A cluster of votive / pilgrim crosses externally. Midway between Salisbury and Shaftesbury, N of A30. Note: the church is some way past the centre of the village – persevere. 51.0654 / -2.0068 /  ST996295

DIALS

St George is a multi-dial church. There are certainly 6, plus one candidate that is debatable and may have a different function entirely. I have a note of an 8th dial, and seen a passing reference to one. Unusually, there are 5 dials spread over 2 adjacent stones, a rare proximity of so many.

DIALS 1 – 3

St George . Fovant . Wilts – Scratch Dials 1 -3

This group of dials are all cut on a single stone. It looks as if the simplest dial (3) was superseded by a similar more detailed one (2) ; and that both were eventually made redundant for practical purposes by a relatively sophisticated replacement (1).

DIAL 1

Dial 1 has 10 lines (including the horizontals) that radiate from the filled gnomon hole, within a semicircle. The spacing of the lines is rather haphazard and it is quite hard to relate their positions to specific hours. One line in LRQ has a cross, presumably to emphasise the afternoon Mass time Nones. In LLQ there are 4 (perhaps 5) holes denoting an important part of the day for observance. The positions of the radials on the 2 earlier dials beneath Dial 1 rather confirm this theory. Is the horizontal line above the semicircle part of the dial? There is a short vertical line from its centre – a short ‘midnight’ line? – that suggests some connection but not one that would assist marking the passage of the day. Probably a later addition, purpose unknown.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 is simple dial with a homespun attempt at incising a perimeter. It has 3 strong lines LLQ, each ending in a pock. The noon area is a confusion of trace / eroded lines with pocks that extend further round the approximate circumference, signifying the early afternoon hours

DIAL 3

Dial 3 is a rustic-looking little dial, presumably the earliest of the group. Although from a distance it seems to be just a pair of stubby lines descending from the style hole, close inspection suggests shallow pocks on a curve beyond the noon line – others perhaps hidden by the lichen. If so, it is more sophisticated that it looks at first sight. But for the size of the style hole, it is a candidate for the ‘smallest dial’ category, of which Tintinhull is supposedly the leader

DIALS 4 – 5

Both dials are together on the same stone, immediately W of the dial stone of dials 1 – 3.

DIAL 4

Dial 4 is hard to analyse in detail because of lichen. The style hole is filled. There is a semicircle – again with an inexact curve – and a hint that there was once a full (misshapen) circle. It is just about possible to make out 12 lines, of which only 6 or 7 are distinct. There are no visible pocks.

DIAL 5

Dial 5 is the only dial with all lines in LRQ: an afternoon dial (but see also dial 8). There are 6 lines, of which 5 radiate directly from the style hole. The line at (roughly) 1pm, if part of the dial, passes to L of the hole.

DIALS 1 – 5

DIAL 6

Dial 6 is different from the other dials, and relatively uncomplicated. The style hole is quite high on the dial stone. There are no radials, simply a gentle curve of several pocks either side of noon. There are 7 in all, and presumably the central one marked noon. There’s a significantly clearer image than mine via the first link below!

DIAL 7 -v- NOT A DIAL

There is debate as to whether this design is a dial, or was incised for some other purpose. Two concentric circles with a hole at the centre are not rare for a dial but one would expect to see lines – even just a noon line – and / or dots around the perimeter of the inner circle. Being sited at the W end, it would only be effective late in the day. Again, this is not particularly unusual where a church has been rebuilt stones relocated – Rimpton, Lillington and Stockbridge are examples.

Sometimes it helps to interpret a possible dial – one that may have been re-sited – by rotating the image. It could be argued that the two small pocks equidistant either side of a notional the noon line indicate a simple rather elegant double-ringed marker of the passage of time in the later part of the day. Alternatively it could be a straightforward dial with two pocks that was moved from the S side to W end. Anyway, it looks more dial-ish with this orientation.

DEH noted that this line-less, pock-less design – a hole at the centre of one or two circles – is not uncommon. He suggests that such configurations may have been dials with the details painted within the circles or on the circumference. This was a common practice and can still be seen in a few churches where there is a dial within the porch, cut next to the pre-porch main doorway. West Camel is one example; Chilthorne Domer nearby even has 2.

Local research (see below), originally in conjunction with Tony Woods / BBS, suggests this may in fact be a form of Consecration Cross or ‘event’ mark. That may well be so. However while these often have double circles, crosses generally (always?) do actually feature a cross or at least some form of incised device.

CONSECRATION CROSS

DIAL 8?

As mentioned earlier, I have a note of – and seen a reference to – an 8th dial. It may have been this faint spidery design with its shallow style hole, the lines all LRQ. If it is a dial at all – on balance I am 66% in favour.

These links will take you to two excellent analyses of the dials by Fovant village online resources. Both are interesting in their own right; the second link provides a good overview of the whole community.

FOVANT HISTORY INTEREST GROUP

FOVANT VILLAGE

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial; Consecration Cross

Credits: all photos Keith Salvesen; thanks to the Fovant church research groups