dial

Rustic stone sundial in an Edinburgh garden

A stone sundial carved in rustic style for an Edinburgh garden

This sundial is delightful. It is the first piece of work by someone in Edinburgh who is learning to do stone carving. It is a very good sundial and they should be proud.

A sundial carved in stone is always special. This sundial is the first piece of work by a stone carver who has begun learning the craft of carving for their own pleasure. The result is very good. The rustic design suits the sunny spot on their slightly overgrown wall in the garden in Edinburgh so well.

Even a rustic design has to follow the sundial rules for the angles of lines on the dial and the angle of slope of the gnomon. Continue reading

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The impossible Dihelion sundial photo

The impossible Dihelion sundial photo

We shot this impossible photo blind because there is no room to stand between the sundial and the house wall.

Dihelion is our well-known dual sundial design, which reads solar time and solar declination. It is impossible to take this photo in the normal way because the sundial is too close to the house, and there is nowhere to stand. So the photo was taken by holding the camera against the house and shooting blind. At a first attempt, the picture has turned out well. 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 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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Summer solstice and a silver sundial

Dihelion dual sundial in silver

Silver Dihelion dual sundial sculpture able to read solstice and equinox, summer, winter, spring and autumn seasons, and the daytime hours.

Summer Solstice 2020 in Edinburgh was a day of beautiful sunshine. What could be a better time to show off our Dihelion dual sundial, which can read the solstice and the equinox seasons and the daytime hours. Shifting patterns of sunlight and shadow and petals of the sunflower show through so clearly. There is a lovely Continue reading

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