This 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
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.
A 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
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
It is hard to compare with the beauty of natural stone for a focal feature in the garden. The customer who bought our Orbdial sundial for a 60th birthday present also decided on our pillar pedestal made in Scottish sandstone to complete their new installation. They wanted something light in colour Continue reading
“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 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
“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
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
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