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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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What is the declination of the wall for a sundial

The diagram illustrates a method for calculating wall declination.

Knowing the declination of the wall (WD) is important for designing a sundial. The basic calculation is azimuth angle (AA) minus protractor angle (PA) plus 90°. You can repeat your measurements for accuracy. Do ask for help if you are unsure.

“What is the declination of the wall for a sundial?” A stone sculptor asked us just this question recently . It is a good question because you must know the declination if you are making a sundial that is accurate for the wall. The sculptor was not confident about their own measurements and calculations so they asked us for help. 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 design of armillary sphere takes shape in Edinburgh

New design of armillary sphere taking shape

A new design of armillary sphere takes shape in Edinburgh, inspired by an original sundial from Northern Italy. The skilled blacksmith work is complete. This is a bespoke design with gold highlights still to be painted.

A new design of armillary sphere has been taking shape in Edinburgh. It is inspired by an original sundial from Northern Italy which has an attractive and distinctive form. The expert blacksmiths at Ratho Byres Forge have done an excellent job in working from our design. 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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Time lapse study of shadows and how a sundial reads the time

Time lapse on precision of a sundial

Time lapse camera set up for study of a sundial looking at precision of the time shadow

There are many interpretations of how well a sundial reads the time. It is often thought the smallest increment of time on a sundial will be around two minutes. This is because the large diameter of the sun gives a fuzzy edge to the time shadow. Our study looked at the shadow 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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