GRADE II C14 origins; very little remains of the original church. Almost all refaced, restored (Withers 1879) or rebuilt. Registers date from mid-C16. Attractive with its squat wooden bell turret. Just N of A303 between Andover and Amesbury. 51.2076 /  -1.6678 / SU233454


There are 2 dials recorded for St Peter, of quite different types. Dial 1 is a simple filled hole in the centre of a circle, without additional markings. Dial 2 is a sector of a fairly large dial that must have covered 2 or more stones.


St Peter . Shipton Bellinger . Wilts – Scratch Dial 1

Dial 1 is inside the porch L of the doorway, quite low down. It consists of a filled central hole within a circle, with a pock (possibly unrelated) ULQ. With a rod as a gnomon, it would work as a basic marker of the the passing day, though at an inconvenient level if in its original position. The unusual shape of the large dial stone also suggests a significant relocation somewhere in the time-line of the various building works. One record dates the dial to C11, which seems unrealistic – it predates the known origins of the church. Also noted were faint traces of a similar circle LLQ, but I could not detect anything significant. There is a further possibility that, rather than a dial, this design is one of the many forms of ritual protection mark. However the size and the filled hole suggest not.


Located on S wall of the Nave, E of door, W of E Nave buttress, and about 2m high. All that can be seen is the LLQ part-perimeter of a quite large dial (if it is one) cut in the upper R corner of a large stone with no discernible dial-ish markings. Basically it is a plain quarter-circle using the mortar lines for the straights, and with a gnomon hole (not now obvious) in upper R corner. To work as a dial in that (or in any different) position, it would have required one additional stone if a semicircle; or at least 2 more if a complete circle. The absence of any lines or pocks on this fragment militates against it being part of a scratch dial. It would have been hard to resist using such a large blank area as a creative area for a proper dial design. Quite plausibly, this curved incision was part of some decorative feature displaced during rebuilding, with companion stones used elsewhere where needed.


GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Mass Dial

All photos Keith Salvesen, BSS

AVEBURY . WILTS . ST JAMES – Vertical Dial


GRADE I † Pre-conquest origins. Significant Saxon features. Splendid Norman doorway. C12 font. Development C12 et seq, with C19 restoration. Archaeologically uncommonly interesting PEV; inc. by Simon Jenkins. BLB Listing. 51.4286 / -1.8579 / SU099699

The vertical dial is below the parapet, L of the porch. From a distance, the only distinct marking on the face is a faint square frame for the dial. Closer examination reveals at least the ‘X’ of noon. The footing of the gnomon is in a badly damaged area. Most notably, the dial is at a canted angle so that it faces south. Hard to date – there’s no clue in the usual resources. C18 perhaps, esp. as roman numerals were used?

GSS Category: Old Dial; Vertical Dial

Photos: Keith Salvesen

PRESHUTE . WILTS . ST GEORGE – Scratch Dial (unrecorded)

St George . Preshute . Wilts


St George is a wonderful church with Saxon origins, C12 foundation, C15 tower; and much T H Wyatt work / restoration mid C19. Treasures include the C12 font, a `truly amazing piece’ (Pevsner) of black Tournai marble. High up on the third stage of the C15 tower is a magnificent C18 sundial: details HERE and an image below.


While visiting St George, I decided to have a brief look at the exterior for church marks in general: graffiti, dates, masons’ marks etc. I was not expecting much, in particular because of the extensive C19 work. However on the W end buttress of the C15 tower, facing SW, there was a large incised design worth inspection.

St George . Preshute . Wilts – scratch dial on the W buttress of the tower

The design is a partial / eroded circle with a central shallow style hole. A noon line extends downwards to the edge of the circle, passing through a pock on the way and ending with a shallow pock. Other pocks mark the approximate edge of the circle on both sides of the noon line. In the lower L quadrant, the pock between the style hole and the pock at the edge of the circle may have been to emphasise the 9-line as indicating the time of a morning Mass, in this case Terce.

St George . Preshute . Wilts – scratch dial on the W buttress of the tower

The British Sundial Society BSS has considered the evidence and added the Preshute dial to its Mass Dial records. In many ways a lucky find, since I was not looking for nor expecting a dial at all.



St George . Preshute . Wilts – the sundial on the tower

GSS Category: Scratch Dial; Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen


St George . Preshute . Wilts


High up on the third stage of the C15 tower is a magnificent C18 sundial. A border of Roman serif numerals from 6am to 4pm frame a complex design of carefully graduated radials that mark the hours and the half hours. The large but slender gnomon casts a long shadow.

St George . Preshute . Wilts – the sundial on the tower

The imbalance in the hour marks – 6 to the left of the noon line, 4 to the right – presumably arises from the orientation of the church and its relation to the angle of the sun (though that’s probably not the correct technical way to express it).

NOTE there is a plausible medieval scratch dial on one buttress (not as yet recorded). It’s status is under consideration by others… If it is deemed a dial I will write it up separately.

GSS Category: Old Dial

All photos: Keith Salvesen