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 youngest children’s classrooms 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 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


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 extravagant and exuberant. 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.


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


Progress step by step to design and make a new sundial

Design concept for a vertical polar sundial

Sketch drawing with accurate geometry for the vertical polar sundial, and a working concept for the design.

Sundials are as old as civilisation, and the ancient designs often stimulate new ideas. We work on sundial designs all the time. To design and make a new one is exciting. There is a lot to consider, which we like to work out step by step.

The principles of the sundial were already well understood and written down by the seventeenth century. Today, computer tools can calculate sundial geometry and get it exactly right. Continue reading


New sundial sculpture of a songbird for a garden in Edinburgh

New sundial for the garden with a songbird sculpture as its gnomon

Our new sundial commission is for a sculpture of a songbird in polished brass on a mirror polish stainless steel dial. Artist sketch shown.

“I would like a new sundial shaped like a songbird for our garden in Edinburgh,” said one of our customers a few weeks ago. This lady told us she did like the Hourdial sundial that we had already shown to her, but she was very taken with our ideas for crafting the gnomon as an original piece of sculpture in the shape of a garden bird. This is now a commission for us to make her a unique and personal piece Continue reading


The Story of the Lennoxlove Stone Sundial – a final word

The Lennoxlove stone sundialThe interesting and beautiful stone sundial at Lennoxlove in Scotland would appear to be a composite piece (Canmore SC 1127053). It consists of a carved sundial stone and the sculpted statue of a lady. As described by Thomas Ross in 1890, both the sundial and the lady’s costume are from the 17th century, but the two pieces may have been put together. Firstly, the architecture is inconsistent, the decorative acanthus leaves at the bottom of the sundial stone do not have a connection with the curls on top of the lady’s head. Secondly, the whole piece does not function correctly as a sundial Continue reading


New sundial gnomon for the wall of a house and garden in Edinburgh

Fixing the gnomon for a wall sundial on a house in Edinburgh

Fixing the sundial gnomon onto the wall and the finished result. Composite photo.

“I thought I would just fix up a garden cane sticking out from the house wall and mark where its shadows fall when the sun shines.” That was the original idea of one of our customers in Edinburgh when he asked if we had any thoughts to help him with his project for a wall sundial in his garden. Continue reading


Edinburgh Probus Club Takes a Look at Sundials

Two beautiful sundials, a bronze armillary sphere and a butterfly gnomon on a horizontal dial.

Two beautiful sundials, a polished bronze armillary sphere and a horizontal dial with a butterfly sculpture gnomon. Photos: Brad Dillon, Horniman Museum.

To a visiting speaker the PROBUS name may be unfamiliar but to the many groups of retired people who meet every month to hear a talk on yet another interesting topic the name simply means pleasure. This was certainly the case with the Comiston group in south Edinburgh who invited Alastair Hunter to speak about sundials Continue reading


Scottish sundial secrets are told at conference in Liverpool

Scottish sundial stone supported by pedestal in the form of a lady

Scottish sundial stone supported by pedestal in the form of a lady. Photo: Dennis Cowan

There is a sundial standing in the garden at Lennoxlove House in Scotland that begs for an explanation of its curious form. The stone statue of a beautiful lady provides the pedestal for this sundial and there is no other like it. Unwrapping layers of history about such an unusual piece of architecture started last year in October. It was many months before we really knew the secrets of why this lady was there and what was her name. Continue reading