History

Restoration of an Atlas figure armillary sundial

Armillary sundial and Atlas figure after restoration

After years of gradual deterioration outdoors the sundial was in poor condition. The Atlas figure was hard to recognise. This is an Art Deco design from the 1930’s. It has now come back to life as a working armillary sundial after complete restoration.

This armillary sundial was once in poor condition. It had been outside in the garden for a long time, and the owners asked us to restore it for them. The Atlas figure that supports the rings, and the arrowhead and tail, were badly tarnished. Continue reading

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An armillary sundial in early morning

An armillary sundial in early morning

This is our new sundial design. It stands in our garden among the plants. It is early morning and the sun has just reached the centre band where you read the time.

An armillary sundial has a wonderful form. It has mathematical rings creating beautiful shapes with circles and lines. The sundial in the photo has just begun to catch the early morning sun in the garden.

The sundial gnomon is the slanting rod in the centre of the rings, and the wide sweeping band is where you can read the time. These features are the same as other armillaries, but our design has special secrets. Continue reading

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Modern techniques for a replica sundial exhibit

A first trial assembly of the gnomon and base plate in position on the dial

Details for making the sundial came from archive records and photos. This image shows the design and successful first assembly of the new parts.

The replica of a 19th century lighthouse sundial we are making will be part of a mobile exhibition. It is progressing well. Lighthouse sundials were made by skilled instrument makers, who worked mainly with hand tools. We are using modern techniques for cutting out the metal and etching the intricate design on the dial plate. The picture shows our first trial to assemble the dial and gnomon parts. Continue reading

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A lighthouse sundial replica for display

A lighthouse sundial replica for display

This is the finished artwork for creating the sundial plate. The graduated lines and gnomonic information will be transferred onto a prepared blank plate using the technical process of photoetching.

For centuries, the lighthouses round the rocky coasts of Britain have been a lifeline to ships at sea. The lighthouse keeper used a sundial to find the time. It was part of lighthouse equipment before telegraph, radio and automation eventually took over. We have been asked to make a replica of one of these sundials.

The replica is for a travelling display of Scottish lighthouse memorabilia, which the owner will use when he gives one of his regular talks on lighthouses to interested groups of people. He has built up a significant collection of items but a sundial is an essential missing piece he has been unable to obtain so far. Continue reading

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New sundial installed in Lews Castle garden at Stornoway

New sundial installed at Lews Castle, Stornoway

New sundial installed on an original cast iron pedestal in the sunken garden at Lews Castle, Stornoway

The new sundial for Lews Castle at Stornoway is now in place in the sunken garden. The old cast iron pedestal has been restored and painted beautifully and the sundial fits perfectly on top. The local team at I M Murray Engineering carried out the work on site.

The handsome pedestal was once the base for a fountain. Continue reading

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New Sundial for Lews Castle at Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

New sundial for the cast iron pedestal found at Lews Castle, Stornoway

The new sundial explains the history of Lews Castle. It will be installed in the sunken garden as part of a regeneration project.

Lews Castle at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles is in the far north of Scotland. It once belonged to the wealthy overseas trader Sir James Matheson, who built the castle as a mansion home on the site of the ancient Seaforth Lodge in the 1840s. He planted woodlands to surround his property and laid out pleasure gardens with species imported from all over the world. An extensive programme of work to regenerate the castle grounds began in 2019. When an original cast iron pedestal was discovered at the castle it was decided it should be restored. It now has a new sundial, which is just finished, and Continue reading

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Watch Scotland’s tallest sundial on TV with Susan Calman

Secret Scotland with Susan Calman at Glamis Castle sundial

Susan Calman chats with Alastair Hunter about the grand sundial at Glamis Castle and finds out how to read the time.

Susan Calman loves her tours of Scotland uncovering secrets for her Channel 5 TV series, ‘Secret Scotland with Susan Calman’. This time she was in Aberdeenshire and Angus. She began with a visit to Glamis Castle, the much-loved family home of Her Majesty the Queen Mother. Susan could not miss the chance to see Scotland’s tallest sundial while she was there, Continue reading

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Supreme Scottish Sundial at Glamis Castle

Sundial at Glamis Castle with 80 dials on the polyhedron

The polyhedron is an upper part of the sundial with 80 dials, and an earl’s coronet on top. Four lion sculptures at a lower level carry dials in their claws.

In the extraordinary world of Scottish historic sundials, the supreme sundial monument stands at Glamis Castle. It is the tallest and grandest sundial and is in the grounds of one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland. In August 2020 a TV crew were filming there for a future series. They asked Alastair Hunter to Continue reading

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Restoration of the obelisk sundial at Drummond Castle gardens

THE DRUMMOND CASTLE OBELISK SUNDIAL

The sundial consists of 61 multiple dials on raised panels and in sunken hollows. The date of the sundial is 1630. It has been made as an exhibition piece to show all of the sundial mathematics of its era.

The sundial obelisk at Drummond Castle in Perthshire has a long and distinguished history. It has its place in the architecture of the ancient castles and houses in Scotland. It is connected with the very earliest days of the British Sundial Society (BSS). And it is one of the most important free-standing sundials in the British Isles from the early 1600s still surviving.

In 2017 after almost four hundred years outdoors the sundial was showing serious signs of the stone deteriorating. The whole structure was feared to be unsound. Making it safe had become urgent. Continue reading

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Restoration of a multi-faceted Scottish stone sundial

Sundial restoration in Scotland

Multi-faceted stone sundial after restoration. There are 34 separate dials, two for local time and the others for different places round the world.

Restoration of ancient stone sundials in Scotland can be very successful. As a latest example, a multi-faceted sundial at Nunraw, East Lothian, was found in poor condition in the garden of a private estate where it stands. It has now been restored to full working order and looks spectacular. The restoration was completed in June 2019.

This sundial belongs to the great era of Scottish sundials in the 17th and 18th centuries. It consists of three multi-faceted stones with a total of 34 separate dials. Continue reading

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