ROTHBURY . NORTHUMBERLAND . ALL SAINTS – RARE CUBE DIAL 1714

All Saints Church . Rothbury . Northumberland – David Evans for CofE Heritage

ALL SAINTS ROTHBURY NORTHUMBERLAND

GRADE II* † On Pre-Conquest / Anglo-Saxon site. C13 / C14, rebuilding & restoration C19 (Pickering) in similar style. Located in Coquetdale with linked churches. 2 medieval scratch dials and further church details LINK. 12m SW of Alnwick, close to NT Cragside. 55.309 /  -1.9106 / NU057016

CUBE SUNDIAL

The cube (‘block’) sundial is on the ground in the churchyard, S side. Originally it was on the porch roof. Parish records show that it was once whitewashed, which cost 1s 9p in 1728. I have included 2 images of each dial face, the whole face and close-up.

BSS record: Main S face has date ‘1714’ and upright Arabic numerals 6 – 6. Hour and half-hour lines. Above is a polar dial with hours 8am to 4pm and a cross for noon. The dial, a substantial chunk of masonry, was most likely taken down from its original site aloft for safety.

FRONT FACE

EAST FACE

There is an excellent article about the THE ROTHBURY SUNDIALS in the Nov 1991 Clock Magazine (Pendulum Publications). The relevant parts relating to the cube dial are as clear and concise as anything I can devise:

  1. A cubic dial which is said to have been situated on top of the old church porch, was lost after the demolition work of 1850 but was later found among the old grave stones and is now sited near the new porch entrance. ​It measures 18in by 18in by 19in and has four dials carved on its surfaces, one each on the east and west faces and two on the south face. The south face has the date 1714 carved into it and some remains of old writing between the numerals and crossed line at 12 noon.
  2. An entry in the vestry accounts for the church in 1728 states that “For white lead and Lamb black for ye Sun Dial – 0   0   9, For Whitning and new drawing the lines and figures – 0  1  0”.

3. If, as the historians tell us, the sundial was on top of the old porch the dials would have been difficult to read, especially the upper south dial sloping as it does at an angle of 45 degrees and has the remains of what was a ½ in thick cast iron gnomon. It would be essential for the lines and figures of the south main dial to be well marked in order to be able to read it.

4. The remains of an angled style (gnomon) 1/8in thick made of cast iron and held in two places by lead filling are easily observed. The east and west styles were set into recesses, scooped out of the faces, and set at 90 degrees to the faces. ​​

WEST FACE

This dial – and its history – is a most unusual one and I am grateful, as ever, to Erika Clarkson for her dial-hunting and photography skills and the resulting coverage of the midlands and the north of England that is well beyond my own territory in the west country.

GSS Category: Cube Dial

All photos by Erika Clarkson except header image of church, David Evans / CofE Heritage Record

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