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A sundial restoration in the north of Scotland – the Craigdarroch stone

A stone sundial restoration in the north of Scotland

This very interesting sundial stone dates from 1777 and has beautiful carved lettering. The new gnomon is elevated at the correct angle of 60°, equal to the angle of latitude. It replaces the broken fragment of an earlier gnomon.

This very interesting sundial stone was found hidden under bushes in an overgrown garden in a small village near Inverness in the north of Scotland. It is known as the Craigdarroch stone after the place where it was found. The stone is carved with sundial lines and hours. We were asked to restore the sundial.

The stone has beautiful lettering which includes two sets of initials and a love heart. It carries the date 1777 with a fascinating inscription around the edge that says “Each one that reads remember ye the time that is no more shall be.” The stone is dense hard sandstone, which still shows all the carving very clearly after 240 years.

Unfortunately, when the stone was found, the gnomon was already broken and only a stub remained. There was nothing to indicate its original shape. The new gnomon we designed has a flowing curve. There was a question of where the sundial originally came from, it might have been made for somewhere different from Craigdarroch? We analysed the angles of all the hour lines and half-hour marks. This showed that the sundial belonged to the same latitude as Craigdarroch, 60°N. The new gnomon is elevated to this angle. It is made in brass and it will acquire a gentle patina over time standing outdoors in the garden.

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Display sundial has been a shining success

Hourdial horizontal sundial design by Macmillan Hunter Sundials

The sundial is a modern design in polished stainless steel and brass. The gnomon has an exact angle of inclination and an interlocking sculpture form. The dial plate has precise hour lines and numbers created by a highly skilled process of photoetching.

Since 2012 when it was first put on display at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in London our Hourdial sundial has been a shining success. It has been the most popular of our different sundial designs. Since the time of that first exhibit our sundials business has grown in all kinds of ways. Continue reading

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A sundial commission with a circular Enoch calendar

Sundial commission with a circular Enoch calendarOne or two years ago we had a general enquiry about making a sundial with a calendar marked on it. Some sundials are marked with a calendar in a graphical form like an elongated figure-of-eight. This is called the analemma, and it might have been the answer to the enquiry. In fact our own Solar Time sundial is a design that displays the analemma.


Read the complete story in the attached article, A SUNDIAL COMMISSION WITH A CIRCULAR ENOCH CALENDAR.


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Dihelion sundial sculpture measures winter sunshine

Dihelion sundial sculpture in winter sunshine

This dual sundial captures the time of day and the season of the year with two separate gnomons, which cast two separate shadows. In this photo the season gnomon casts its shadow in winter sunshine. The shadow falls at a low angle and crosses a sundial marker for Winter Solstice.

It is always intriguing to see how many different measurements can be made with a sundial, and in how many different ways. The Dihelion sundial measures in two ways, and you wait for a whole year before the measurements repeat themselves, but it is always fascinating. The photo catches a moment of winter sunshine when Dihelion throws a shadow at a shallow angle across a winter solstice marker. Continue reading

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Friends of Inverleith Park Invite Speaker on Sundials

Kinloch Anderson sundial in Inverleith Park, Edinburgh.

This stone sundial, erected in 1890 in the new Inverleith Park in Edinburgh, was presented by Councillor Kinloch Anderson. [Photo: Dennis Cowan]

The Friends of Inverleith Park take great pride in their large popular park in the City of Edinburgh. There is a sundial garden and a historic sundial monument. For their AGM on 27 November, the Friends invited Alastair Hunter to speak on the subject of ‘A Look at Sundials’. He showed pictures of old and new sundials, and explained how this ancient method of finding time by the sun continues to be reborn today Continue reading

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Designing a sundial is all about the detail

Sundial engraving test piece

An engraving test piece in brass to compare details of font and point size for a new sundial.

Designing a sundial begins with an idea. There are technical matters and aesthetic aspects to think of, but then it is all about the detail. Our latest design is not quite complete yet. We want it to be a very beautiful sundial and made in pottery and brass!

One important detail of the design is the lettering we plan to use and the exact technique for engraving on the brass dial. Our picture shows a test piece with different font and point sizes. Continue reading

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Study of an old stone sundial on an estate in Fife

An old stone sundial in Fife

An original stone sundial with two dial faces dated 1746 found on an estate in Fife.

The owner of an old stone sundial on an estate in Fife wanted to know where it belonged. The stone was lying on the ground behind farm buildings and no one could say where it had come from. Was it the correct latitude for the estate, could we study it for them and find out more?

The date 1746 carved on the stone certainly confirmed this sundial was old. Continue reading

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A sundials tour at Heriot’s and the Museum in Edinburgh

Sundial sculpture in bronze with sun symbolsThis marvellous small sundial sculpture sits on a wall of one of the classrooms for the youngest children at George Heriot’s School in Edinburgh. We looked at it closely during our tour of sundials in the school this morning. The sculptor and probably the children as well have introduced a number of lovely features into this piece. There is the beautifully modelled hawk and globe, which is an ancient Egyptian symbol of the sun god, there is the mouse and some lines of poetry from Robert Burns, and there is the T-square remembering the late architect Bob Clunas who designed the building. Continue reading

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Edinburgh Probus Braids Club talk

Historic sundial at Holyrood Palace, Scotland

Historic sundial at Palace of Holyrood commissioned by King Charles I for his Scottish coronation in 1633.

It is always interesting to see how people will react to a sundials talk. I usually say they are in the majority if they know nothing at all about this fascinating yet unfamiliar subject. In the 21st century sundials have largely been forgotten, but I try to explain how sundials were once an essential part of the science of timekeeping. Their designs spanned an extraordinary range from purely functional to wildly exuberant sculpture monuments. Today those old traditions of imaginative design are still alive, providing new generations with pleasure and enjoyment from timeless and beautiful sundials.

You can see the slides for my talk here, PROBUS EDINBURGH TALK ON SUNDIALS – Copyright Macmillan Hunter 2017.

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New garden sundial with gnomon like a bird set on a stone pedestal

New sundial with brass gnomon as a garden bird and stone pedestalA few months ago we showed our range of garden sundials to a lady from Edinburgh. She wanted a 60th birthday present for her husband. Rather than choosing one of the sundials on display, our poster sketch of a new sundial instantly caught her eye. Its gnomon was shaped like a bird and this is the one she chose. She wished to set the sundial on a new stone pedestal. Continue reading

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