Sundial stories

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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Drummond Castle Sundial Restoration

Drummond Castle Sundial Obelisk

The sundial dates from 1630. It has 61 individual dials and 131 separate ways of telling the time. An inscription in Latin carved into the stone explains the separate colours chosen for time. The lines remain but the colours have gone.

The sundial at Drummond Castle in Perthshire is the earliest of the distinctive style of sundials in Scotland. It dates from 1630. Three years ago it was removed from the garden for major repairs and conservation work. This restoration is now complete and the sundial stands tall in its glory again.

A sundial reinstatement ceremony was held on Sunday 23rd June 2019 at 11.00 am. Continue reading

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A sundials tour of parks and gardens in Edinburgh

Ancient sundial of Scotland at Fettes College

This historic sundial probably dates from the 1630s. It was placed in its present position in 1893.

This year’s sundials tour visited parks and gardens in Edinburgh. It is the latest in a series of large and small events to help raise funds for the YACHT project at Greenbank Church, which supports ‘Youth at CHurch Today’. In recent years the tour has been to George Heriot’s School and the National Museum of Scotland (2017), and Lennoxlove near Haddington (2015).

This year we were a group of nine who heard about a fascinating background of art, science, history, and people. Continue reading

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Kinloch Anderson Sundial Restored at Inverleith Park

Inverleith Park sundial restored in 2018

The Inverleith Park sundial originally gifted by Edinburgh firm Kinloch Anderson in 1890 was newly restored by the same company in June 2018.

It was a great day seeing the Kinloch Anderson sundial fully restored at Inverleith Park on Saturday 16th June 2018. It marks 150 years since 1868 when the company was founded. The company held a celebration party for their many guests. The Lord Provost of Edinburgh Continue reading

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

Stone sundial restoration

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 Continue reading

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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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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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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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