ST MICHAEL . AXMOUTH . DEVON
GRADE I † C12 origins (nave, chancel), gradual expansion C13, C14 and C15; restoration 1889. Norman doorway with fine Tympanum (long predating the inscription 1698). Good C15 wall paintings.Very close to the estuary, perfect for a walk or a bird-watch. 6m W of Lyme Regis. 50.7142 / -3.0546 / SY256910
Three dials are recorded for St Michael. They are all similar and, unlike most multi-dial churches, their design give little sense of developing methods of marking the passage of the day.
Dial 1 is located on the E quoin stone of the transept, with the gnomon hole in the mortar line. There are 3 distinct radials, and a 4th that is a faint trace. BSS records include the comment Rescratched and false gnomon added.
The last record is dated 1994, since when the false gnomon has been removed. I have used an image from then; the dial is less easy to see now. The diagram below has a theoretical perimeter and time marks for a complete dial. The note no noon [line] is slightly surprising. Radial 3 looks vertical and possibly bifurcated in re-scratching.
Dial 2 is cut on the Chancel chapel, E end of the wall, on a quoin stone. There are 4 lines radiating from a filled gnomon hole in the mortar line
In close-up (below) it is just possible to see that line 3 (L to R) is longer than the others. That could suggest a noon line incised slightly off true vertical. If so, on this simple dial it might be a casual approach to the medieval daylight hours. On a later, more sophisticated dial, it might represent a way to achieve accuracy on a church that was not square on to the true SWNE footprint.
Also situated on the wall of the chancel chapel, and again radiating from the mortar line. BSS notes 4 lines, but 2 cannot now be detected. However the suggestion that noon is marked by double lines is plausible. This might be for emphasis (as with a terminal pock or cross); or because the vertical was re-scratched.
GSS Category: Scratch Dial
Photos. Keith Salvesen; diagram and other material, BSS