QUEEN CAMEL . SOMERSET . ST BARNABAS – Scratch Dial(s)

Queen Camel . Somerset . St Barnabas

GRADE I . C14 (first record 1291); C15 expansion; late C19 work. See HE for details of this interesting church, with its fine portico. A few miles N. of Sherborne or Yeovil. 51.0225 / -2.5754 / ST597249

DIALS

DIAL 1

The medieval dial is easily found on S wall of the chancel, on the buttress E of the priest’s door. The approximate semicircle embraces an almost compete set of 6-to-6 lines. There are several pocks, large and small. BSS notes include: 1. Worn. Repositioned. Octaval, Tides. 2. Dial (Norman?) with tides, with duodecimal, sometimes both. 3. Mason-cut or roughly scratched. 4. Tide dial, roman numerals, extra line at 7. I have to say (as an amateur) that I can’t match all these features to this dial or either of them if both are being described together (see below).

Queen Camel . Somerset . St Barnabas – scratch dial 1

The dial is large, almost the full width of the buttress. Unusually, it is cut over 4 stones. Note the low pock some way directly below the noon line. Most of the dial is cut on the Hamstone E quoin, the lower rim extending onto the 2 stones below. These stones match those around them. However the L side of the dial is cut on grey stone not matched elsewhere nearby.

I was puzzled by the suggested repositioning of the (entire) dial. An alternative theory might be that the dial was positioned where it is now. Over time, the L side became eroded or damaged and was replaced with a different kind of stone (perhaps being used for repairs elsewhere on the church). The new stone was then cut to match the design of the original. Looked at closely, the ‘new’ L side design does not in fact match the rest accurately. Not all lines follow exactly; there are no pocks; the incisions are clearer. Does this support a later replacement (and possibly harder) stone?

DEH visited in May 1914 and recorded 182. (2) This dial is on the first buttress to the e. of the priest’s door. It is 5 feet 9 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/8 inches in depth by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 5c. May 18th, 1915.

DIAL 2

Dial 2 also creates some confusion, not least its location. BSS does not record this dial as a separate entry from Dial 1 but may be referring to it especially in the note 4. Tide dial, roman numerals. Dial 1 does not have visible roman numerals but Dial 2 does.

Queen Camel . Somerset . St Barnabas – dial 2

This dial is located high up above the portico, below the parapet of the nave seen as clerestory with parapet BLB. It is quite damaged, with a modern gnomon and a flaking layer of blue paint that makes it stand out (see header image). It’s hard to date the dial. Similar dated dials in the region are quite often early C18 or even C17. The dial is conventional of its kind, carefully graduated. The numerals are set in a frame, and italicised each side of the noon line.

DEH’s description of his second St Barnabas dial is another puzzle:

181. (1) This dial is on the s.e. buttress of the s. aisle. It is 6 feet 7 1/2 inches above the ground, the noonline is 5 inches in length, the stylehole is invisible, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. The dial is curious, as it has the lines arranged much as they are in an ordinary sundial, with Roman numerals cut at the ends. There may have been a slit for a gnomon, now carefully cemented up. Probably this should not rank as a Scratch dial.

There is a significant problem. The location DEH gives for it, six feet up on a buttress, is totally different from this now blue dial, yet his description broadly matches it and his comment that it probably should not rank as a Scratch dial is clearly apposite. I may have missed a second buttress scratch dial, even though I have been back to check. Or else perhaps DEH made a simple error in compiling his notes of several churches visited at one time in one area (I have come across a couple of similar instances). So this dial, now blue, is the one he meant but mis-located.

Queen Camel . Somerset . St Barnabas – dial 2

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

EAST CHINNOCK . SOM . ST MARY – 2 Scratch Dials (1 unrecorded)

East Chinnock . Somerset . St Mary. Scratch Dials
East Chinnock . Somerset . St Mary

EAST CHINNOCK . SOM . ST MARY

GRADE II † C14 origins on earlier site; mostly C15 and later C19 work. South porch very simple, possibly C14 BLB. Cinnuc in Saxon times. 4 miles W of Yeovil, attractively set on the steep hillside at the E end of the village though right beside the A30. 50.9164 /  -2.7145 / ST498132

DIALS

St Mary has 2 dials. Both are on the S porch, one of the earliest parts of the church. One was recorded by DEH on his visit in June 1915. The other is a new find I believe.

DIAL 1

The dial is halfway up the L side of the porch immediately above a gravestone. It comprises pocks with a large style hole. The pattern is haphazard and the dial might actually make more sense if rotated 90º L, producing a double pock noon line.

East Chinnock . Somerset . St Mary. Scratch Dials
East Chinnock . Somerset . St Mary – Scratch Dial 1

DEH 196. This dial is on the w. side of the s. porch, at a height of 4 feet 8 inches above the ground. The noonline is 2 1/4 inches in length, the stylehole is 7/8 of an inch by 1/2 an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 30° e. Type 10. June 15th, 1915.

DIAL 2

East Chinnock . Somerset . St Mary. Scratch Dials
East Chinnock . Somerset . St Mary – Scratch Dial 2

Dial 2 is located quite high on the E face of the S porch, a simple 4-line fan dial. The position makes no sense for a sundial, and it was plainly relocated at some stage. In the process, as is often the way, it was inverted. This re-siting with a rotation of the stone retains the decorative feature even though no longer a reliable time indicator. This is the sort of find that reminds me always to search beyond the normal dial locations of porch, buttress and priest’s door.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

PODIMORE . SOM. ST PETER – Scratch Dial

St Peter . Podimore . Somerset

ST PETER . PODIMORE . SOMERSET

GRADE I. Early C14 on the site of an earlier ?C12 church. Unusual three octagonal stages on the square base of the tower. Porch of significance, with dial by inner door. Church situated close to the N. perimeter of RNAS Yeovilton. Historically spelled Podymore, sometimes adding Milton. 51.0219 / -2.6492 /  ST545249

DIALS

St Peter has a fine dial on a quoin stone at E. end of the nave, an unusually complete and very satisfying symmetrical design. DEH records this dial (as does BSS), and also a second dial inside the porch (a feature of churches in the area) that is rather a puzzle.

DIAL 1

St Peter . Podimore . Somerset – Scratch Dial 1

There is a full complement of 24 lines, each passing through a pock on its way to the perimeter. The line spacing is regular, each angle at 15º. The style hole is large relative to the careful proportions of the design. Overall the condition is good, the lower half more so than the upper. Some lines pass into (and perhaps beyond) the mortar joints, suggesting that a very strong and weather-resistant mix was used in medieval times (or extreme care taken with mortar repairs).

St Peter . Podimore . Somerset Scratch Dial 1

DEH visited in Oct 1914 and noted that the dial is elaborate and has lines and dots, and is also of unusual pattern. This dial is one of very few photographs included in his book. Note the spelling of the village in the caption. I wonder what kind of camera he took with him on his travels round Somerset?

211. (2) This dial is on a quoin at the s.e. corner of the nave. It is 4 feet 9 inches above the ground, the noonline is 4 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is 3/4 of an inch deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 15° e. Type 11.

DIAL 2

The dial inside the porch of St Peter is RHS of the door. BLB notes S porch, gabled, with outer 2-centre arch of 2 orders, the outer segmental, and inner plain pointed arch door and a possibly C16 door with old ironwork. The date of the original porch – restored 1871 – that covered the dial is unclear.

St Peter . Podimore . Somerset – Scratch Dial 2

The dial, at latch level, is rustic and in poor condition. There are 2 clear lines, with the noon line cut deep at the top then scratched roughly a long way downwards before petering out. There’s no sign of a style hole where the lines meet, so the gnomon was presumably fixed in the mortar line just above. A partial / eroded line at the edge of the lower R quadrant could be consistent with Nones in the canonical Mass.

MYSTERY

A mystery arises from DEH‘s record for this ‘within-porch’ dial: He noted 210. (1) This dial is on the w. side of the inner door of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 6 inches above the floor, the noonline is 1 inch in length, the stylehole is in a joint and filled, and the aspect is s. by 20° e. Type 2. I found no dial in that position nor with that description. My tentative theory is that, very rarely, DEH’s notes of a day’s dialling are unclear; features of one church / dial appear to be ascribed to another nearby. Probably I should return to the area and check the churches for a dial as he describes.

St Peter . Podimore . Somerset – Scratch Dial 2 within porch

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

SUTTON MONTIS . SOM . HOLY TRINITY – 2 Dials (one unrecorded)

Holy Trinity . Sutton Montis . Somerset

GRADE I † Saxon origins; surviving work of C12 and all subsequent periods BLB. Chancel C12 / late C13, Victorian restorations. An attractive church with its squat tower and portico; secluded and approached by narrow lanes. 6m N. of Sherborne; 7m W. of Wincanton. 51.0214 / -2.537 / ST624248

DIALS

Holy Trinity has 2 dials. The first is a small unobtrusive scratch dial by the S. doorway, possibly unrecorded unless in the church archives. It was not noted by DEH during his thorough coverage of the area; and it is not in the BSS register. The second (C18?) is clearly not strictly a scratch dial but an early vertical sundial. It definitely deserves inclusion as a most intriguing dial from a later period.

DIAL 1

This simple conventional scratch dial is inside the portico on LHS of the door. There are 2 clear lines from the style hole, with a fainter 3rd somewhat offset between them. The deeper cut line possibly indicates a Mass time (Terce).

Holy Trinity . Sutton Montis . Somerset – Scratch Dial

DIAL 2

Holy Trinity . Sutton Montis . Somerset – C18? sundial

On the central buttress of the chancel. A single oblong stone slab with the mortar line as the horizontal ‘6-to-6’ and the numerals framed. The top edge of the frame is cut along the stones above; clear on the left one, faint on the right. Large Roman numerals on each side; small ones along the bottom of the dial. IIII for IV. The radials – more distinct on RHS – are graduated, with the noon line termination in a cross. The present gnomon is a simple metal triangle. It is hard to tell whether there was originally a wood or iron style or not.

It is unclear what the 2 iron pegs at the bottom are for, though they appear to be designed to hold up a stone tablet – perhaps at one time a different dial or a memorial slab was placed over the original dial.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Holy Trinity has other features to note – graffiti including dates and initials; at least one Marian (witch) symbol; and a mystery inscription. Sutton Montis indicates a hill hamlet and is clearly marked on historical maps. However I can find no historical or cartographic reference to the ‘valley hamlet’ of Sutton Vallis. And yet…

GSS Categories: Scratch Dial; Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

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

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

ASHILL . SOM . CHURCH OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – 3 SCRATCH DIALS

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary . Ashill . Somerset

CHURCH OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY . ASHILL . SOM.

GRADE II*. C12 / C13 on the site of an earlier church; later additions and alterations. Just off the A303 between Taunton (7m) and Ilminster (3m). 50.9508 / -2.9677 / ST321172

DIALS

Dom Ethelbert Horne DEH visited Ashill, during his Somerset dial-seeking perambulations, on 16 August 1915. He found 3 dials closely grouped on the SE corner of the nave. As I am finding, his descriptions from more than a century ago have been eroded by the passage of time and by work carried out in the intervening period, for example filled style holes.

DIAL 1

115. (1) This dial is on the s.e. corner of the nave. It is 6 feet above the ground, the noonline is 2 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 1/4 inches deep by 1 inch diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 2

Notes: the ‘6 feet’ is from the base of the nave wall, which is below the churchyard level; the style hole has been filled in the interim

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary . Ashill . Somerset – Scratch Dial 1

DIAL 2

116. (2) About 10 inches to the e. of the above is another dial, which may be only a copy. The noonline is 2 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is as above. Type 2.

Notes: the lines are more spidery, less distinct, and more random than dial 1

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary . Ashill . Somerset – Scratch Dial 2

DIAL 3

117. (3) Two feet below the last named is another, also probably a copy. The noonline is 4 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is as above. Type 2. August 16th 1915.

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary . Ashill . Somerset – Scratch Dial 3
Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary . Ashill . Somerset – Scratch Dial 3 annotated

DIALS 1 & 2

Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary . Ashill . Somerset – Dials 1 & 2

DEH notes that ‘it is rather difficult to determine whether Nos. 2 and 3 are only copies of No. 1 or whether they are original’. Having seen and photographed (as he could not) the dials, I am wondering whether the rudimentary dial 2 was in fact the first, with ‘dial 1’ cut later, copying and improving on it.

Dial 3 is rather different to either of its companions. DEH categorises each dial as being in his ‘Type 2’ (of about 12); perhaps that is what he means by ‘copy’ – ie the general style, not the physical details

BLB LINK

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

BLACKFORD . SOM . ST MICHAEL – 2 SCRATCH DIALS

Blackford . Som . St Michael

ST MICHAEL . BLACKFORD . SOM.

GRADE II*. C11 origins with Norman features inc. doorway inside the porch; enlarged in C14 (tower) and C15 (S. porch); C19 restoration. One of many attractive villages in the area. 4m W of Wincanton, with only the A303 to spoil the peace. 51.2261 /  -2.8478 / ST 65722673

DIALS

Dom Ethelbert Horne DEH visited Blackford on April 24th, 1914, during one of his tours around Somerset examining medieval churches and recording the details of the scratch dials he discovered. Blackford is one of a very small number of Somerset churches where he found a dial inside the porch. It must predate the added C14 S. porch to have had any practical use. Another example of an interior dial can be found at WAYFORD.

DIAL 1

DEH 165. (1) This dial is on the e. side of the inner door of the s. porch, at a height of 4 feet 6 inches above the floor. The noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole, which is in a joint, is filled, and the aspect is due s. Type 2

Blackford . Som . St Michael – Dial 1

There are 4 sharply incised lines with no discernible traces of others. The mortar line at the top acts as the horizontal ‘6-line’ and the style location. The spacing of the lines is somewhat unusual for such a well-cut, being neither the 15º equal segments of an old design nor the carefully graduated lines of a later scientific dial. Perhaps this indicates an even earlier origin, even possibly contemporary with the original doorway?

The stone immediately below the dial has a very small (apparent) dial descending in the same way from the mortar line. One could probably dismiss it as a later copy or doodle of the dial above. On the other hand, crude though it is, the radials are differently configured with more emphasis on the LR quadrant. Perhaps a practice dial?

Blackford . Som . St Michael – Dial 1a?

DIAL 2

DEH 166. (2) This dial is on the w. side of the priest’s door, which is blocked up. It is 2 feet 6 inches above the ground, the noonline is 2 1/2 inches in length, the stylehole is small and shallow, and the aspect is due s. Type 3. April 24th, 1914.

Blackford . Som . St Michael – Dial 2

This dial on W. side of the blocked Priest’s door would be easy to miss, though the newly mortared surround is not. DEH doesn’t note its state, but I wonder if has eroded significantly in the intervening century since his visit. There is the hint of a full circle. It’s hard to make out a noon line as such. Now only a single pock below the shallow style hole indicates the vertical.

ADDITIONAL DIALS?

Besides the small ‘dial’ in the porch mentioned above, there are 2 other candidates, both by the Priest’s door. The first one is faint, but there are 2 visible lines leading from a small hole in the stone. Each has a pock at or near the end. Other pocks in the vicinity may be relevant to the theory. The other candidate looked promising, but is less likely I think.

Blackford . Som . St Michael – possible Dial 4

NOTES

St Michael is worth visiting just for the splendid apotropaic marks (ritual protection / witch marks) in the porch, in particular a deeply incised flower-like hexafoil; and a delicate and complex multiple hexafoil design.

Useful general information can be found at CAMELOT PARISHES

GSS Category – Scratch Dial

All photos – Keith Salvesen