Time

Babylonian and Italian hours measure the day

Babylonian and Italian hours on a sundial

This vertical dial has hour lines radiating from the top, as well as the criss-cross pattern of Babylonian and Italian hour lines, plus the lines for solstice and equinox. Looking at the shadow of the gnomon, the time of day is 9:30 am and the time of year is the equinox. The Babylonian time is 3½ hours from sunrise, and the Italian time is 8½ hours before sunset. Adding these together the length of day for the equinox is 12 hours.—Note, the figure has no numbers. Once you learn how to read the lines, it is not hard to learn how to count them!

Babylonian and Italian hours are wonderful. They measure out the day from the time of sunrise to the time of sunset. Add them together and they will give you the number of hours of daylight. A simple ancient type of sundial like this one can measure times for you that you will hardly ever find on a modern watch. Continue reading

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Oak leaf sundial art

Oak leaf sundial

This beautiful sculpture projects the shadow of oak leaves etched in glass onto the carved sundial panel behind. The shadow of a single oak bud falls in exactly the right place to tell the time.

There is so much pleasure in owning a work of art done by a friend. For a sundial person the pleasure is even greater when this is a sculpture that can show the time. Today we set the sculpture up at home and we were amazed how beautifully it comes to life in sunshine. All the fundamentals of a sundial underlie this marvellous creation. 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 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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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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Getting The Angles Right On A School Sundial

FEB26 MOCKUP COMPOSITE 270H

Early computer model for the sundial (left), and the completed design erected on the wall of the school building

For anyone who has ever enjoyed doing geometry at school, getting the angles right on a sundial may not sound so difficult. The sundial has to see the sun and the shadows have to tell the time. When sundial sculptor Tim Chalk was sketching out ideas for his latest work to erect a sundial at Dollar Academy, a leading Scottish school, he thought about the angles Continue reading

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New sundial for historic garden in Switzerland

Orbdial sundial on marble pedestal

Orbdial is a universal type of sundial that can be set for different latitudes.

In a land renowned for its clocks and watches a Swiss couple have chosen our Orbdial sundial to mark the hours in their historic garden set on a hill above Montreux, overlooking Lac Leman, which they are restoring to former glories. The sundial has a handsome polished pedestal in pink and yellow veined marble from Verona. The couple wanted to see the colours of sunrise and sunset in the sky picked up by the sundial and the stone. In Victorian times this house welcomed figures from music and the arts, including Gertrude Jekyll the influential garden designer. Continue reading

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