Any Wall Sundials On Irish Buildings

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This topic contains 15 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 7 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #711515


    Anyone know of an Irish building (big or small) with this kind of thing on it ?

  • #817696

  • #817697


    A very good example. In good nick too.

    By the orientation of the gnomon, it looks like it’s on a south eastern facing wall.

  • #817698


    And it just so happens that someone has created a website just about Sundials in Ireland, what are the chances of that?

    The sundial 5 metres up on the south west corner of St. Mary’s, Church of Ireland, in Crossmolina has obviously been restored along the 12 noon line. The west half with the better engraving and portion of the motto may be the original. The motto was probably “MANEO NEMINI” I Wait for no one.

    So Teak, are you thinking of incorporating a sundial into one of your projects? I like the simplicity of them & had even thought about doing a painted one on my house before, but like a lot of my notions it never materialised into reality.
    Heres some Italian wall painted sundials.

  • #817699


    Theres loads more of them painted sundials to be seen here

    Unfortunately, although most of those featured are european, none are from Ireland.

  • #817700


    So Teak, are you thinking of incorporating a sundial into one of your projects?

    I am thinking of one for a house wall — maybe even 3, for the E, S and W walls.

    And it would be easy for an architect – using their CAD software to get image projection of the 24 x 15 degree equatorial dial grid onto any defined wall inclination – to set out the dial and then colour plot that pattern & its decoration effects precisely on A1 paper.

    My planned dial also includes having a better means of getting local time without coarse inscribed tables on the dial or (worse) mentally making the equation of time correction oneself.
    Something simple like a nick or small ball on the gnomon edge and then see where this mark’s shadow falls on a set of (pre-calculated and inscribed) equation of time correction curves for various times of the year .
    The equation of time correction is almost symmetrical so half the possible shadow length contours can be used if the reader knows whether they’re in one half of the year or the other.


    If used, would have to be as isotropic as possible. Hence plys or some carefully chosen wood with appropriate even expansion characteristics.
    Never going to be as precise as metal or stone but agreeable to look at and paintable.

    Many decorative possibilities here, with polishing, masking & plating, anodising & dyeing (aluminium), anodising & interference colour effect (SS, titanium), lacquer cover, natural weathering oxide films (bronze), etc.
    Big advantage with metal dial is the precision of its inscription and the possibility of being able to mount it easily on adjustable tilts so that the time may be set precisely and corrected later if needed.

    A precise layout pattern is a must here.
    This will also be the most expensive to produce due to cost of ornamental sculptor’s time, doing all those small cuts with smaller machine tools and even handtools.
    Also have to consider the protection of the dial from weathering effects.
    But maybe the most impressive material in the end, if you imagine an old red sandstone dial like old farmhouses used to have with their quaint sun- and moon-faces.

  • #817701


    The Clanbrassil Barn at Tullymore Forest, near Downpatrick

  • #817702


    Saint Peter’s Church of Ireland, Kilscoran Parish, South Wexford

  • #817703


    I rather like this one. It fits in well in as much as it could be put on a glass door or window but does not cause the distraction that a stained glass one would.
    And its simplicity makes it cheap as well.

    This is another “modern” type that’s done on the gable wall of some university building.

  • #817704


    And here is another on a slightly larger scale:

    The paving of St Peter’s Square

    The paving is varied by radiating lines in travertine, to relieve what might otherwise be a sea of cobblestones. In 1817 circular stones were set to mark the tip of the obelisk’s shadow at noon as the sun entered each of the signs of the zodiac, making the obelisk a gigantic sundial’s gnomon. Above is a view of St. Peter’s Square from the cupola which was taken in June, 2007.

  • #817705


    I did not know that…how fascinating. Sundials, like weather vanes and ornamentation are lovely features.

  • #817706


    Here is another photograph of the gnomon in operation – taken before the demolition of the Spina in 1937.

  • #817707


    Here is a closer example showing the coordiantes for the square.

  • #817708


    And an example of one of the markers on the ground:

  • #817709


    Here are the markers for the measurements last taken in 1817:

    (left-above) Inscription on the northern side of the obelisk stating that the sundial measurements were taken in 1817; (left-below and centre) marks of the sundial at noon; (right-above) mark of the southern colonnade focus; (right-below) one of the eight marks showing the cardinal points and the direction of winds

    The obelisk was erected in Heliopolis most likely by Pharaoh Amenhemat II (it does not have any inscription in hieroglyphics); it was relocated to Alexandria by the Romans at the time of Emperor Augustus. It was brought to Rome by Emperor Caligula who placed it in the private circus he had built at the Vatican (the circus was later on named after Emperor Nero). The obelisk was the only one which did not fall down and this fact in the Middle Ages was attributed to the reputation of Nero as a sorcerer. It was topped by a (lost) bronze globe which was thought to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar (to see all the obelisks of Rome click here).
    In 1586 Pope Sixtus V ordered Domenico Fontana to relocate the obelisk from the southern side of the old basilica, near Sacrestia di S. Pietro to the square in front of it. At the time the dome was not yet completed and the obelisk was not perfectly aligned with it. The top of the obelisk was decorated with a bronze cross above a star and three mountains (other heraldic symbols of the pope); in three inscriptions Pope Sixtus V celebrated the relocation of the obelisk and its change from a symbol of the pagan world (ab impura superstitione) to the holder of the Holy Cross; the text of the front inscription (which means Behold the Cross of the Lord. Flee ye adversaries! The Lion of the Tribe of Juda has won) is known as St. Anthony’s Brief and was used in exorcisms.

    In 1817, in imitation of Augustus’ sundial in Campo Marzio, the shadow of the obelisk was measured and since then it serves as a gnomon and its shade at noon indicates the day of the year. The starting days of the zodiacal months are indicated by circular slabs of marble; similar slabs were also used to indicate the cardinal points and the focuses of the two colonnades. It is likely that the leaning of the obelisk was corrected at this time.

  • #817710


    First ‘public’ vertical gnomon dial that I’ve seen.

    To work out the time on this more complex dial, people will have to spend more time mulling around the circus. This in turn attracts more tourists in – to see what they’re doing – and you have a concentration point (and rest & refreshment point) in the city’s tourist circuit.

    But vertical gnomon dials are not practical for wall or garden dials as people will not have the time or inclination to learn about them.
    Personally, I’m not too gone on these old ‘Father Time reminder lines’ that are often inscribed on sundials.
    But that is a designer’s issue.

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