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

MARSTON MAGNA . SOM. ST MARY – SCRATCH DIAL

St Mary . Marston Magna . Som

ST MARY . MARSTON MAGNA . SOM .

GRADE I. Pre-conquest origins, largely rebuilt in c.1360 and reworked thereafter. Plenty to investigate and to test your building dating skills. BLB summary HERE. 5m NE of Yeovil, NW of Sherborne. 50.999 / -2.5807 / ST593223

DIAL 1

A single dial. St Mary was visited by DEH on May 18th 1915 and he recorded:

199. This dial is on the first buttress to the w. of the priest’s door. It is 7 feet 4 inches above the ground, the noon-line is 4 1/2 inches in length, the style hole is 1/2 an inch deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10°e. Type 3. May 18th, 1915.

St Mary . Marston Magna . Som – Scratch Dial

The radials go beyond 180º, with quite a variation in spacing, depth, and length. There are notably longer and deeper afternoon lines, with one extending to the stone below. Possibly that quadrant was more deeply incised, or maybe recut at a later date. The lower left quadrant certainly looks more eroded.

The style hole is large. DEH makes no comment on the equally large hole immediately above. I could see no other dial signs – lines or pocks – linked to it. I wondered if it was the original dial on this prominent buttress, of the most basic type – simply a hole with a stick in it (the shadow would still be an indicator of the passage of time). Rather than elaborate it, a new dial was added beneath.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

Photos: 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

BARWICK . SOM . ST MARY MAGDALENE – TWO SCRATCH DIALS

BARWICK . SOM . ST MARY MAGDALENE

DEDICATION † St Mary Magdalene. C13 onwards, enlarged from a chapel. C19 rebuilding, chancel added. Norman font, good bench ends (‘a lively set’ PEV) including a carved Green Man), bells c.1400. An excellent information board / timeline in the churchyard

LISTING † Grade II*

LOCATION † Church 2 miles south of Yeovil, but you might never know. In folded country cut by deep sandy hollow ways PEV. Best approached from the hectic A37 down a long hill, formerly one of these sunken ways that are a feature of the area. The church is almost the first building as you enter the village from W. end, before the old village and newer housing. 50.9225 / -2.6301 / ST558138

BARWICK . SOM . ST MARY MAGDALENE . Scratch Dial 1
BARWICK . SOM . ST MARY MAGDALENE . Scratch Dial 2

DIALS † Dom Ethelbert Horne DEH visited the church on June 16th, 1915 and found 2 dials

DIAL 1

186. (1) This dial is on the w. side of the s. porch. It is 4 feet 9 inches above the ground, the noonline is 3 inches in length, the stylehole is 5/8 of an inch deep by 1/2 an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 25° e. Type 3.

The style hole is easy to see but the radials are hard to make out because of erosion and lichen. 4 or 5 lines are fairly clear, others barely discernible. DEH notes Dial No. 1 is just above a consecration cross, of which there are three cut upon the s. wall. See Notes below.

DIAL 2

187. (2) This dial is on the s.e. corner of the s. aisle. It is 3 feet 6 inches above the ground, the noonline is 4 1/2 inches in length, and the stylehole is 1 1/2 inches deep by 3/4 of an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 30° e. Type 4.

A strongly cut and pretty dial on the quoin E. of the Priest’s Door. The lines are straggly, with varying lengths, angles, straightness and depths. Some extend into the upper half of the dial.

DEH notes: Dial No. 2 has Roman figures added at the ends of certain of the lines The two images below are the same, in both colour and B&W. Some find the latter makes for clearer reading. The numerals – in the lower left quadrant – are hard to make out now. More than a century after DEH’s visit, erosion and pollution may have caused significant deterioration.

NOTES † Consecration crosses – DEH noted 3 on the S. wall. In all there are 10 exterior crosses, and one interior by N. door. One has been dated to 1489. The hole in the centre of the first has made me ponder whether it held a gnomon, with the outline of the cross working as a ‘time of day’ marker.

CHARLTON HORETHORNE . SOM – ST PETER AND ST PAUL . TWO SCRATCH DIALS

DEDICATION † St Peter and St Paul. C12 onwards on probable Saxon site; later work C15 and especially C19

LISTING † Grade II* BLB LINK

LOCATION † 5 miles NE. of Sherborne, 5 miles SW. of Wincanton. A fine early church situated next to the Manor House, overlooking a pleasant village and with fine views. 51.0061 / -2.4785 / ST665230

DIALS † There are two dials. Dial 1, easily found, is on a quoin W. of the porch. Dial 2 is located where the foundations are well below present ground level, and is difficult to reach. The dial is E. of the window E. of the porch and only visible from a narrow trench behind a screen of laurels. Access with care.

Dom Ethelbert Horne – DEH visited the church of May 25th 1915. His observations follow below in italics.

DIAL 1

173. (1) This dial is on a quoin at the s.w. corner of the s. aisle. It is 8 feet 3 inches above the foundations, the noon- line is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is 1 3/4 inches in depth by 1/2 an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type3.

Comment:

1. A faint trace of a circle rhs

2. The noon-line below the style hole has a considerable gap before the start of the line, which is longer and deeper cut than the other radials

3. Above the style hole there is a roughly incised and skewed line from the top of the stone towards the side of the style hole, with (possibly) some form of emphasis at the top end. It seems unlikely to be an upper noon-line, being squint and at odds with the neatly cut lower radials. Possibly it is just a random unrelated mark, from a different century even.

4. However the hint of a further short incision to the left of the crude one makes me wonder if it and the longer line are part of an earlier dial that radiated from a hole in the mortar line above. Perhaps it was superseded by the later more sophisticated dial we now see. DEH clearly did not consider these upper markings to be part of the main dial

DIAL 2

174. (2) This dial is on a quoin on the e. side of the first window e. of the s.porch. It is 8 feet above the foundations, the noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is filled up, and the aspect is s. by 10° e. Type 5b. May 20th, 1915.

Comment: an encircled dial with the upper half left blank. Elongated mid-line with the Prime line emphasised with 3 pocks. Hints of other pocks. The radials have rather random spacing, with the lower significantly elongated below the circle

NOTES † Interesting to see 2 quite different types of dial like these, and on different types of stone. I can’t date them but I suspect Dial 1 is earlier than Dial 2

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen

SOUTH CADBURY Som. – ST THOMAS à BECKET

DEDICATION † ST THOMAS à BECKET [also ST THOMAS of CANTERBURY] – earliest religious mention DB 1086; building dates from C13 & C15, with C19 restoration

LISTING † GRADE II*

LOCATION † Six miles N. of Sherborne, six miles W. of Wincanton. One of nine ‘Camelot’ churches; situated close to the steep stone track that leads to the impressive iron-age hill fort Cadbury Castle, with supposed (actual?) links to King Alfred. Serious walking country. 51.0277 / -2.5269 / ST631254

South Cadbury, Som. St Thomas à Becket . Scratch Dial

DIAL † Visited by DEH on April 24th, 1914:

172. This dial is on the s.e. corner of the nave. It is 3 feet 11 inches above the ground, the noonline is 4 inches in length, the stylehole is 7/8 of an inch in depth by 1/2 an inch in diameter, and the aspect is s. by 30° e. Type 3

DEH further notes: ‘the noonline in this dial is considerably out of the perpendicular. This is caused by the stone not facing due s. by as much as 30°’ (see large image in Gallery for the angled pocked noon radial)

NOTES † In the Churchyard stands a small armillary sphere dated 1929, on a slender column. The memorial inscription relates to Robert Read, ‘Ironmaster and Ornithologist’, with a charming and original dedication that I will post in other pages (armillary spheres, mottos) in due course

GSS Category: Scratch Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen April 2021