gnomon

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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Restoration of an Atlas figure armillary sundial

Armillary sundial and Atlas figure after restoration

After years of gradual deterioration outdoors the sundial was in poor condition. The Atlas figure was hard to recognise. This is an Art Deco design from the 1930’s. It has now come back to life as a working armillary sundial after complete restoration.

This armillary sundial was once in poor condition. It had been outside in the garden for a long time, and the owners asked us to restore it for them. The Atlas figure that supports the rings, and the arrowhead and tail, were badly tarnished. 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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An armillary sundial in early morning

An armillary sundial in early morning

This is our new sundial design. It stands in our garden among the plants. It is early morning and the sun has just reached the centre band where you read the time.

An armillary sundial has a wonderful form. It has mathematical rings creating beautiful shapes with circles and lines. The sundial in the photo has just begun to catch the early morning sun in the garden.

The sundial gnomon is the slanting rod in the centre of the rings, and the wide sweeping band is where you can read the time. These features are the same as other armillaries, but our design has special secrets. 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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New design of armillary sphere takes shape in Edinburgh

New design of armillary sphere taking shape

A new design of armillary sphere takes shape in Edinburgh, inspired by an original sundial from Northern Italy. The skilled blacksmith work is complete. This is a bespoke design with gold highlights still to be painted.

A new design of armillary sphere has been taking shape in Edinburgh. It is inspired by an original sundial from Northern Italy which has an attractive and distinctive form. The expert blacksmiths at Ratho Byres Forge have done an excellent job in working from our design. 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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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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