LONGBURTON . DORSET . ST JAMES THE GREAT (2) – Scratch Dials (one ‘new’)& Vertical Dial

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset


Some time ago I wrote about the intriguing scratch dial rather hidden away through a low archway at the E end of the church: LONGBURTON SCRATCH DIAL 1


St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial 1

The village is better known dial-wise for the vertical dial on the S-facing tower buttress (see below). Yesterday I went back to look for apotropaic and other church marks, and to my surprise found an excellent conventional sundial hidden in plain sight and hitherto unrecorded. I can’t think how I – or any dial gatherer – would miss it…


The previously unrecorded dial is near the base of the same buttress as the vertical dial. There are 4 lines, the more clearly cut noon line being longer and reaching the edge of the dial stone (and possible trace of extension onto the stone below). The angles are almost equal. There is the distinct trace of a circle in around the top half, but strangely the gnomon hole would not be at its centre.

St James the Great . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial and Vertical Dial, Tower Buttress


The dial is high up on the buttress of the tower, and nearly as wide. It is quite eroded, esp. RHS. The lines are contained within a frame, and half hours and some quarter hours are also marked.

BSS notes Triple dot motif at head of half hour lines. Gnomon formed from iron strip with supporter. Supporter is detached at contact with gnomon

The dial numerals are Roman, yet there are Arabic numerals in both bottom corners signifying the date. It is hard to make it out, but I think it is 1798. There are the remains of an inscription along the top of the dial, just the last 2 letters being discernible (O & W?).

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


St James . Longburton . Dorset

DEDICATION † ST JAMES the GREAT C12 origins, C13 tower, C15 rebuilding, later additions


LOCATION † 3 miles S of Sherborne, a long narrow village on the main road to Dorchester – rather a traffic bottleneck. ‘A linear village slowly descending to marshy land…’ (PEV) Church slightly set back in its peaceful-seeming churchyard. Besides the excellent scratch dial, there is a fine vertical sundial high on the S. buttress of the tower (merits a separate post in due course) 50.9132 / -2.5008 / ST648127

St James . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial

DIAL † Sundial: On S.E. buttress of nave—stone cut with scratch-dial and two crosses (BHO). Reached through a small stone gateway, not a location easily guessed. Dial in good condition, additional marks shown in images. 4 emphasised radials.

St James . Longburton . Dorset – Scratch Dial location

NOTES † As mentioned, there is a fine vertical sundial with an interesting split gnomon on the tower S. buttress, to be posted soon. Also, excellent gargoyles and head stops. Below are the 2 crosses on the dial stone, one with dot decoration.

GSS Category: Scratch Dial